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Intern to CEO: Lessons Learned Along the Way – Embrace Emerging Technology

November 19, 2018 | Dave Hinnenkamp

At BerganKDV, we call our CEO, Dave Hinnenkamp, the Accidental Accountant. Way back in the 8th grade, Dave procrastinated on a homework assignment about careers. So, he grabbed the first job at the top of the assignment list—accountant— and got the paper turned in. Sounds weird, but this assignment set Dave on a path that led to him earning an accounting degree and an internship at BerganKDV. In fact, he was the first intern BerganKDV ever had.

Throughout his career, Dave has learned a lot of lessons along the way. This is the second in a series of five blog posts where Dave shares tips that helped him during his journey from Intern to CEO at BerganKDV.

#2: Embrace emerging technology.

I have to admit, when I sat down to write this blog with young professionals in mind I was a little intimidated. Yes, CEOs can be intimidated too. When it comes to technology it’s like I’m preaching to the choir. But then I realized, this isn’t about who can operate the latest and greatest, it’s about recognizing opportunities that can be gained by embracing what the new technology can do for us to improve our personal lives or how we serve others around us!

This is going to age me but my first piece of game-changing technology was an Osborne portable microcomputer (aka laptop) that I shared (yes, shared) with others in my office. Next I had my very own Compaq portable computer with a six inch screen that weighed almost 30 pounds but it had a floppy disk drive! Many in the office were reluctant to figure out how to use these new pieces of equipment but I grabbed the chance to try it out, realizing the potential for being more efficient and saving myself some time.

This probably won’t come as a shock to anyone but once you have learned how to do something a particular way, it can be frustrating to be required to change up how you do it. It seems unfamiliar, you have to stop and think about doing things that were second nature. A word of caution, though, if you choose to stay with the familiar and not broaden your skill set, you can miss huge opportunities.

In the professional services industry, more often than not, we are selling a service, not a product. Sure, we sell some tangible things but mainly people pay us for what we know, for our expertise in solving problems. Being able to focus on helping the client is a big deal which is why technology advancements are a great thing for young professionals just starting out in their careers.

When I started out as a staff accountant, my role was pretty much behind the scenes, grinding out the work so the people higher up in the firm could go meet with clients. Now, with technology taking a lot of that “grunt work” out of the mix, younger staff members have the chance to engage with clients in a much more meaningful way. This gives younger staff the chance to develop the skills that truly matter – critical thinking, problem solving, relationship building – at a much earlier stage in your career.

I encourage you, as you start your career, to seek out companies like BerganKDV, who value these skill sets and provide you with not only the technology you need but training opportunities in nontechnical areas like leadership development as well as things like our mentorship program, where you have someone walking along side you for the first several years of your career to help you grow and develop.

Want to learn more about us? Start here and watch for my next blog post about speaking up and sharing your ideas.

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