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Denise Giesting, Director of Operations at Giesting Financial, grew up in South Bend, Indiana. She moved to Batesville after graduating from college, then stayed on to make it her permanent home. “Life would be much different if I had chosen to take that job in Chicago instead of coming here to Batesville to work for Hillenbrand,” she says.

Denise graduated from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University with a double major in economics and marketing. She met Mark Giesting on her first day at Hillenbrand—he was also working there. The two became friends, spending time together and getting to know one another for a year before dating and ultimately marrying. “I have a very special partner in Mark, being friends from the beginning allowed me to get to know the real him. It’s just gotten better through the years.” They co-founded Giesting Financial in 2002. “Mark is more the visionary and I am the practical one. We make a great team,” she says.

The Giestings decided to launch the firm when Denise was pregnant with their fourth child, leaving corporate America in part because of their growing family and to pursue a better work-life balance as Mark’s job entailed a lot of travel. “Of course, owning your own business is a lot of work, too. In the early years, it was just the two of us doing everything from cleaning the bathrooms to meeting with clients to creating plans to completing all the paperwork,” Denise says.

Denise used to be licensed—she had her life & health insurance license as well as Series 63 and 6 securities registrations—but today she primarily works behind the scenes to manage the back-office. “We’re so grateful that the firm has grown through the years. We have two locations now, and it’s exciting to provide opportunities and to watch our talented staff members succeed in their own careers,” she says. Giesting Financial has won the Batesville Herald Tribune’s People’s Choice Award for Ripley and Franklin counties—as voted on by readers—numerous times over the past decade.

What Denise loves most about her chosen career path is that she has the privilege of helping people in the community. “The thing about working in a small town is that our clients are our friends—we see them when we go out. It’s personally rewarding to be involved in something that helps other people achieve their goals. We seen families through having their kids, sending them to college, weddings and grandchildren—we’ve seen them through deaths, too. It’s truly humbling and gratifying.”

Mark and Denise will officially have an “empty nest” next month when their youngest, Max, who just graduated from high school, leaves to join the Marines. Daughter Maddie, their oldest, is a speech pathologist; son, Alec, is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in Denver; and Sam is currently a junior at the University of Dayton in Ohio.

Remaining at home with the couple is the family’s beloved rescue dog, Lena. Denise loves taking walks with her every day. “Lena has added so much joy to our lives, she has such a special personality.”

Walking with Lena two to three miles each day might seem like a lot of exercise to many. But Denise pursues additional activities to stay physically fit. She laughs, “It always feels wonderful when you’re done.” She works out several times a week at her sister- and brother-in-law’s Crossfit gym which is two doors down from their home. And during the summer months, she swims at a neighborhood pool with friends a few times a week. “It’s a very special group of ladies I swim with. It feels almost spiritual to be in the water in the morning as the sun rises,” Denise says. “We’ve been doing this each season for about 20 years now.”

Most recently, Denise has started playing pickleball, which she absolutely loves. “I used to play tennis, volleyball, hockey and a lot of other sports, but injuries sidelined me. Pickleball is played on a smaller court, so I can move easier. Anything played with a ball doesn’t feel like exercise, it just feels fun!” In addition to participating in sports, she also watches her favorite team. Denise remains a Notre Dame football fan, true to her “fighting Irish” South Bend roots.