Shelley Van Etten
WLT Software Enterprises
Shelley Van Etten, CEO of WLT Software Enterprises, is the second-generation owner of WLT Software. Shelley’s father, William L. Tiner, wrote a benefits administration and adjudication program in 1978 and founded WLT Software. In 2002, Bill Tiner asked Shelley to come to work with him so he could train her to one day take over the company. Shelley started in Implementation, learning the system from the ground up. In 2004, Bill Tiner promoted Shelley as WLT’s CFO, which brought her finance expertise to the company. In 2006, Bill Tiner retired and sold his company to the three officers of his company. One of the officers was Shelley and the company became WLT Software Enterprises, Inc. In 2010, the previous president and CEO stepped down, and Shelley Van Etten became WLT Software’s president and CEO, titles she still holds today.
Since 1979, WLT Software has been a leading provider of advanced benefits administration and claims adjudication systems for Insurance Companies, Government Employee Plans, TPAs and Self Administered Groups.
Shelley has always been focused on the goals and vision of keeping the company growing and moving forward to meet and exceed Client, Business Partner, and Employee expectations and needs. She makes a point to rise above the daily challenges and instead see the larger picture of what needs to be done, and she provides guidance to the team to get the job done. Being a forward thinker, Shelley believes in not dwelling in the past but learning from it to move the company in the right direction.
“I was taught to run my company with respect and transparency, always listening not just to our Clients’ needs but also empowering my employees to give suggestions and insight into the industry,” says Shelley. “I provide all the managers and staff, including the women leaders, with guidance, empathy, clear directives, and the tools necessary to succeed. I do not look at gender but skills and treat all employees and management equally with respect as well as compensation.” She has learned to keep an open mind and is always willing to adapt and discuss ideas in this fast-moving industry.
What makes Shelley a steadfast leader is assigning set goals and providing instructions and tools to get the job done. “I hold meetings to set goals and help keep the management team on the right path for what needs to be accomplished.” She adds, “I give the teams the opportunity to make decisions and I don’t second guess them. I am always telling my teams that I hired them because I saw the necessary skills for the position but more importantly, I saw their potential for growth within the company to achieve success.”
Practicing an open-door policy for any type of discussion necessary to keep people on track with their goals gives Shelley a chance to show care and empathy when needed, and correction, insight, and suggestions when she sees an employee going off track with their goals. “Most importantly, I fight for my employees and the company to keep us moving forward and on the right path.”
Shelley was 34 years old when she was promoted to an officer position. “I did question myself at times about the decisions I was making. It took me some time to realize that I don’t have to have all the answers and make decisions on my own. I hired intelligent people with different points of view to help me make the right decisions and examine the pros and cons of any decision I make.”
Shelley believes it is important to be a leader, not a boss. “I read a wonderful article a long time ago showing the differences between being a boss and a leader. A boss orders their employees to do things that they would not necessarily do themselves. When a boss makes the wrong decisions, they blame their staff and do not assign any blame to themselves. When the company succeeds, a boss will take all the glory without giving credit to the people who helped achieve that success. I always say: Be a Leader. I will not ask someone to do something that I am not willing to do myself. A leader takes responsibility for mistakes that are made and works with their team to learn from these moments and implement corrective action. A leader shares in all successes and recognize their team’s contributions and celebrates their achievements.”
According to Shelley, to be a leader, one does not always need to be the most intelligent person in the room. Instead, a leader should surround themselves with people wiser than they are, people who can share their experiences and wisdom to provide the necessary information to help make the best decisions to move the company forward. WL
Shelley Van Etten
WLT Software Enterprises
WLT Software aims to make administration tasks simple yet efficient. We work directly with our Clients to create customized solutions for their specific needs.