About Us Purpose Natalie Lamarque: Learning to harness fear

Natalie Lamarque: Learning to harness fear

Building a support network has given Natalie Lamarque the strength and perspective needed to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

atalie Lamarque sitting in a high back club chair at Principal headquarters with a soft smile.
4 min read |

Fearless isn’t a word Natalie Lamarque would use to describe herself.

From working in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office as a federal prosecutor to moving across the country for a job opportunity, Lamarque has faced plenty of situations and life changes that came with uncertainty.

“It's not about whether you feel fear,” Lamarque says. “It's what you do once you feel it.”

Learning to harness self-doubt and use it to her advantage is what has helped Lamarque get comfortable with the uncomfortable—and what ultimately led her to the role of executive vice president and general counsel and secretary at Principal®.

Evaluating risks—and harnessing fears

Growing up in New York City as a child of Haitian immigrants, Lamarque watched her parents face uncertainty head on.

“You see people handle really difficult situations with confidence,” Lamarque says about her parents. “I’m just wired differently because I grew up with them as role models.”

Escaping dictatorship in 1970s after migrating to the U.S., Lamarque’s father pursued a career as an accountant. Her mother rose in the ranks as an OGBYN and ultimately ran the obstetrics and gynecology department for New York University hospitals, facing life or death situations every day.

Lamarque’s father also had a keen interest in law. It was the lawyers in Haiti, after all, who fought for government reform, despite the very real risks. Though his pursuit of a law degree was cut short, he passed down his passion. In the Lamarque household, democracy was never taken for granted—and politics, law, and civics were routine topics of discussion. A deep respect for all three grew in Lamarque, and ultimately led her to pursue a career in law.

Despite her passion for the job, it did not come without its challenges. Early in her career as a trial lawyer, Lamarque remembers the uncomfortable sensations that flooded her every time she stood up to make an opening statement: A racing heart. Butterflies in her stomach. Pounding in her ears.

And although inherently risk averse, Lamarque was never satisfied staying in her comfort zone.

“You learn to compose yourself and focus through it,” Lamarque says. “You learn to prepare and study more.” And, she adds, “you learn to stop fighting your feelings but rather lean into them.

“And every time you do, the muscle grows and so does your confidence,” she says. “The amount of fear and apprehension decreases and the length of time it takes you to get over that concern shortens.”

Building a support system

All the techniques Lamarque has learned, she emphasizes, come from the network she’s built over the years. It was this support system that helped her find the courage to move across the country to join Principal in 2022.

Championing women’s achievements

Principal works each day to create a working environment in which all employees have opportunity to grow and succeed. In alignment with our core beliefs and practices, Principal was named a 2023 Top 75 Company for Executive Women by Seramount.1 Learn more about how we support women in the workplace—including those who make up 46% of our leadership.

“I called on an entire cabinet of people—my husband, my children, my parents, mentors, sponsors, other general counsels, and CEOs who have made similar moves themselves,” Lamarque says.

Leaning on people she can be honest and vulnerable with in times of change is key. But nothing has given her perspective like supporting and mentoring others.

It's what she spends a lot of her time doing as general counsel: Ensuring Principal has top talent and then providing the support and guidance they need to feel connected to the mission of the company and do their best work.

“You cannot get perspective if you stay in your own box and all you're thinking about is you,” Lamarque says. “And you're only talking to other people who look like you, think like you, have the same experiences you have.

“It's going to make you see small things as big things and big things as small things, because you need diversity of opinions and perspectives to really understand what you're looking at.”

Simply put, Lamarque says, “I don't believe anyone succeeds alone. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.”

What's next?

Find a career that fits your skills and passions at principal.com/careers.