By Tim Priebe
September 28, 2023

Young Professional Q&A: Daniela Deuel 

Learn how taking a chance and saying “yes” to unknowns led Daniela Deuel to live and work in Edmond.
Daniela Deuel

Daniela Deuel is the Regional Manager for Creative Financial Strategies and a board member for Edmond Young Professionals. A transplant from New Mexico, taking chances and saying “yes” to opportunities eventually led her to live and work in Edmond.

Q: Do you live in Edmond, work in Edmond, or both?

A: I relocated to Oklahoma in the fall of 2021 when my Firm opened up a branch in Edmond. Initially, I lived in Yukon and commuted to Edmond, but as of February, I am thrilled to be both working and living in Edmond.

Q: Where did you grow up and go to school?

A: Born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I attended the University of New Mexico, where I obtained a degree in Music Education with an emphasis in voice. I was very involved with the student chapter of the National Music Educators Association and worked for the Fine Arts Department.

Within the community, I was part of the local performing arts scene, playing the lead ingenue roles in Fiddler on the Roof, the Music Man, and Jekyll & Hyde. 

Q: What did you do prior to getting involved with your current company?

A: Once I graduated from UNM, I taught at a public school that specialized in the fine arts. As the music teacher, I taught grades K-5 and had 585 students every week across all of my classes.

Simultaneously, I launched my own private studio, where I trained students on the piano and in both classical and musical theater vocal technique. I was a guest clinician for a variety of singing competitions and choirs, as well as the theatrical and music director for the youth theater company Encore! and theatrical director of a children’s opera in collaboration with Santa Fe Opera.

During this time, I also served as President of the Board for a theater company, which allowed me to work within the business side of a fine arts organization – rather than the performing side. This let me flex my “administrative” muscle and started the snowball effect that led into where I am today. 

Q: How did you get involved with your current organization?

A: You’re probably wondering, “How does one transition from fine arts world to the finance industry?”

While always very musical and artsy, I also was a natural at organization and management. The skills required for successful administration and business acumen came very easily to me, and I naturally fell into these roles from childhood to adulthood – whether that was being involved on the leadership team at 4-H, running the creative design/staging department for my church, or the professional positions I served in. I often got told, “You should be a lawyer, a CEO, or something…boss lady-like!”

When it came time to declare my major in college, I declared my first love, which was the fine arts, with the intention of eventually pursuing my other interest in business at some point down the road as an additional career or in tandem with graduate studies. I was approached by the owner of my Firm, who I knew personally from church, and avoided his “you should come work for me and run my Firm” for almost two years. How could a vocalist and educator run a financial firm? Besides the music and math brain connection, what do these things have in common?

Eventually, I took a chance and agreed to meet with him. He laid out all the skills he saw me in from my organizational leadership at our church and the theater company, and he painted the picture of how I would fit in the Firm and how those skills, alternative perspective, and experiences were needed for the growth he sought for his business. After some prayer and thought, I knew this was my next step and I boldly said yes. I have been with Creative Financial Strategies for eight years, and not once have I regretted making what some would call a “drastic” career change.

I am grateful that I said yes to this opportunity, as it so positively has changed my life both personally and professionally. 

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: As the Regional Manager for Creative Financial Strategies, I am responsible for the day-to-day operations of both branch offices and our personnel, maintenance of industry relationships, and client relationship management. I enjoy the organization and planning that is required to run and maintain a business and have a knack for problem-solving and improving operational systems and procedures.

While these may seem mundane, I see them as skills that I’ve developed that have a direct impact on the lives of my Firm’s clients. My role is a vital piece of their overall Comprehensive Financial Roadmap, and it allows me to be their advocate.

It’s been a privilege to walk alongside clients and support them through their retirements, growth and sales of businesses, major life changes, and achievement of substantial goals and dreams. Being on the “inside” of someone’s life and the life of their family is an honor. Knowing that my involvement, understanding, and attention to detail helped make a substantial difference in their lives? No comparison.

Q: What’s something you’re passionate about in your personal life?

A: An avid singer and pianist, I am most likely playing through scores of my favorite musical or playing Chopin’s Mazurka Op.17 No. 4. I love to actively participate in musical theater productions or attend them, and I am delighted to be involved with my first Oklahoman theater production (The Sound of Music) with Lyric Theatre.

This past year, I had the privilege of adjudicating for the Kelli O’Hara Awards. The Kelli’s are one of two Oklahoma musical theater awards programs that highlight exceptional high school musical theater singers and their schools. They are judged by a panel of adjudicators who watch them perform in their high school production and evaluate them based on a variety of criteria. These students compete for the “Best Actor/Actress” awards at the Civic Center and go on to represent their local awards show at the National Jimmy Awards on Broadway! 

Q: What’s an accomplishment you’re the proudest of?

A: Taking a chance and saying “yes” to unknowns seems to be a theme in my adult life. When I was given the opportunity to relocate to Oklahoma, I almost immediately knew that Oklahoma was where I needed to be for this next season of my life. I had not thought through the many logistics, evaluated all the loss and gain of the situation, researched the area …which is uncharacteristic of me. I do not make uncalculated, unplanned decisions. Yet, a small voice said “go” – and I did.

I am proud of myself for uprooting my 30 years of life in New Mexico, walking away from all the familiar, leaving my support system behind, and replanting myself in a new state and community. In the past two years here, while there still have been struggles and some sadness, I feel very grounded and have grown more as an individual and professional, thanks to my Edmond community.

Q: What is one of your big goals you’d like to accomplish?

A: Over the next ten years, I intend to be more involved with the community of Edmond, specifically within the city government, and encourage and promote the civic engagement of youth and young professionals. I believe that community ownership is so very important, as our local government impacts our business and our daily lives, and it is both the right and responsibility of each one of us to serve.

Additionally, I would like to see more performing arts groups and theatrical/opera companies call Edmond home – and be an integral part of the creation of these organizations. Edmond is so privileged to have a thriving arts community already. I want to see it grow into a regional arts-centric hub in the West South Central area.

On a more personal note, I’d like to travel to Spain to see the regions my family originated from and stay for an extended period in order to be fully immersed in my culture. I hope to one day get married and have a family – however that that looks – and spend my time doing the things I love with the people I love, plus my two little dogs, Rocky and Apollo.

Regardless of what the next decade holds, I hope, above all else, I will have left a positive impact on my community, colleagues, friends, and family.

Q: What do you like about Edmond?

A: I love how close-knit the community is and that it has a very “small town” feel and values – despite not being a small town. You can sense the communal involvement and care in your everyday life. Edmond has a lot to offer, with beautiful open spaces, new retail and entertainment, a top-rated school district, and safe communities. You don’t have to leave the Edmond city limits to have access to all that you may need.

I also like that Edmond is pro-business and pro-entrepreneurs, actively attracting businesses and industries to our area. 

Q: What is your number one tip for other young professionals, either for work or life in general?

A: Whether it’s in the workplace, at home, while volunteering, or any circumstance in between, each one of us is a leader – regardless of whether or not you have a leadership title. We lead by our daily example and someone is always watching.

I am a proponent of servant leadership and believe that, overall, it is the healthiest leadership style. Be a servant leader. Take a genuine interest and concern in your coworkers’ and employees’ lives. Put them first over your personal and professional gain. Offer legitimate support. Be authentic. Facilitate growth. That spirit of servanthood begets many other wonderful behaviors – like kindness and empathy, connection and solid team foundations, wisdom, and collaborative thinking. Now extend this concept outside the workplace, and we’ve got real change and impact.

I believe that caring leadership has the capacity to drastically improve and impact a workplace, relationships, and community. James Kouzes and Barry Posner said it best in their book, The Leadership Challenge: “Leadership is not an affair of the head. Leadership is an affair of the heart.”

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About Tim Priebe

Tim is a public speaker, author, publisher of Edmond Business, and the owner of T&S Online Marketing. He helps businesses that are worried they don’t have the expertise or time required to invest in doing their own digital marketing. He helps them plan where and how much to invest and often helps execute the plan.

Tim started the Edmond Business online magazine in May 2020 to fill a need in the community when The Edmond Sun shut down and stopped publishing their monthly magazine, The Business Times.