Northwestern Mutual

DeShawn Chapman

Learn how an engineer was able to reinvent himself, finding a fulfilling career that directly impacts others. 


DeShawn Chapman was working long hours as an engineering executive, wishing he could spend more time with his young children. After witnessing large layoffs and a changing industry and suffering from a lack of personal purpose in his work, DeShawn became excited when he heard about a new career opportunity from his own Northwestern Mutual financial representative. Now, DeShawn enjoys a purpose-driven career with independence, flexibility and the ability to “control my own destiny.”

In His Own Words

Making a Difference

Early in my career at Northwestern Mutual, I asked a client, “Who do you care about?” He told me that he cared about his wife, and if something happened to him, he would want his wife and kids to be taken care of. I suggested he make sure he had the right amount of life insurance, and we got his coverage in place. Two years later, I received a call that this client, who was not even 40, died unexpectedly. I will never forget it. I sat down with his wife and looked into her eyes, and I said, “You’re going to be okay”. I was able to deliver on what I had promised.

After this experience, I was able to see the lasting impact I could have beyond my career, even beyond my time here on earth. It affirmed why I am here; it affirmed what I am doing. It was a very powerful experience for me. Many people don’t really want to talk about situations like that, but I try to remind them that it’s not about you, it’s about who you care about. As an engineer, I felt like I was missing out on something. I didn’t feel like I was fulfilling my purpose; now I am.

Career Rewards/Challenges

In this career, I am able to align my words, my thoughts and my schedule to my purpose. It’s powerful and motivating. Every day when I wake up, I look forward to coming to the office, and at the end of the day I feel extremely grateful for the impact I had on the community. I meet people I care about and introduce them to a company that helps them prepare for retirement and protect their families.

I will say that this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done – it’s a really hard business. It’s a lot of work! But whenever I have days that are not so good, I am able to bounce back, because when your actions and your thoughts align to your purpose, everything is easier.

Career Advice

My advice would be to establish your network – reach out to as many people as possible. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can help. Get connected! Make sure you have some strong ties to the community and participate in charitable organizations. When I started in this career, I had never done sales before; so establishing my network and getting connected was crucial to getting my business started.

It’s also important to find a mentor or someone else within the office who you can talk to and bounce ideas off of. You will need a support system when you embark on a new career, particularly being an entrepreneur and starting your own business – it’s a new experience for a lot of people.

Leverage the abundant resources and training that is available through Northwestern Mutual. They have been around for a long time; when you do something for a long time, you get better at it!

Learn More About DeShawn Chapman

To learn more about DeShawn Chapman, visit his website.