Intern to CEO: Lessons Learned along the way – speak up

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 third in a series of five blog posts where Dave shares tips that helped him during his journey from Intern to CEO at BerganKDV.

#3: Speak up.

After I had worked with clients for a number of years at the firm, I was seeing a pattern happening over and over where they were missing out on potential tax savings because of the way their investments were being handled by advisors outside of our firm. It was frustrating for me to see clients missing out on these savings, I knew there was a better way.

This became the spring board for me to really start thinking about how we could do a better job for the clients we were serving. I was fortunate to have built a great relationship with a colleague who had more seniority at the firm. I started talking to him about an idea I had to start a wealth management division so we could handle both a client’s taxes and their investment strategies. I put together a business plan, explained to the senior leadership how it could work and they gave me the green light to get going. It was a risk for me and for the organization, but it was also very energizing to be a part of something from the ground up!

Most all of us were raised to respect our elders, and most definitely, in the job setting, to be mindful of our boss. While there is nothing wrong with those principles of respect and understanding the hierarchy of an organization, I want to challenge you to never feel you are too young to speak up. If you have an idea, share it. Find a mentor and use him or her as a sounding board.

The people that have been around a long time don’t have all the answers, and a good company will recognize that the best answers don’t always come from the top. Do your homework, come up with a plan and share it when you see an opportunity to make things better. Be sure to address how you would help contribute and how you would own the development of the idea!

So, how do you come up with and grow an idea? First, make sure you are developing trust with not only your clients but your teammates. Ask your clients the harder questions and truly listen to what they are telling you. What are their challenges? What do they do well? What do they want to do better? Then figure out how you can work with your teammates to help.

Maybe what the client needs help with is not one of your strengths. But, if you have taken the time to develop relationships within your organization, you can hand the work off to someone better suited to handle that particular situation. Over time, this will develop a trusting relationship not only with your teammates, but with your clients as well. As I talked about in my last blog post, fostering relationships will become increasingly important as many technical tasks are increasingly being handled by technology advancements.  As you begin your career, now is the time to develop those relationships inside and outside your organization and please – don’t be afraid to speak up!

Want to learn more about us? Start here and watch for my next blog post about not hoarding your own success.

Read More!
Tip 1: Be Flexible
Tip 2: Embrace Emerging Technology

CATEGORIES: Featured | Life at BerganKDV
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