How to Advance Your Career in Finance

At age twelve Tyler Lipofski started working for his parents, owners of a local Piggly Wiggly grocery store.  This sparked a new ambition to understand businesses and how they functioned.  Coincidentally, Tyler always possessed a special gift for puzzles and numbers.  He put his new ambition with his natural gifts to use while in college.  He even pursued finance outside his classes when he served as the store manager of the family operated grocery while in college.

Although the market was competitive when the economy took a dive in 2008, it didn’t affect go-getter Tyler.  Within the same month he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a Bachelor of Business Administration, he also started his first finance job as Accounts Receivable Analyst for Brookdale.  From there, Tyler was promoted to a finance analyst role, then a senior finance analyst, then a manager of financial planning and analysis, then into his current role.  He’s advanced every one-and-a-half years on average.

Four-time Brookdale promoted Tyler recently moved from Milwaukee to Nashville for his latest promotion as Director of Financial Planning and Analysis at Brookdale’s Nashville headquarter office after the merger last year.

 

Four-time promoted Tyler Lipofski reveals 4 tips on how to advance your career in finance.

 

1.  Build up your resume in school.

Do everything you can, even before you start your first job.  If you’re a student, you can find a supervisor at your school before you graduate who is knowledgeable in the field you want to pursue.  You can reach out to alumni or ask your favorite professor(s) for a mentor recommendation.  It shows initiative in the classroom and will help you discover what you want to be a part of early on.

You don’t have to wait for your performance review or graduation to make a difference in your career.  You don’t even have to know exactly what you want to do as a career.  I stumbled upon finance.  I was an accounting major until my final semester in college.  More interested in the bigger picture undertakings, I figured I had to start out with the details first.  I then discovered this wasn’t the case and could be a financial analyst right off the bat.  From there, I switched majors and pursued finance full force.

Three things made me stand out the most when I applied to work for Brookdale.  First, I had hands-on experience.  Second, I served in leadership roles.  Third, I was actively involved in philanthropic activity.  I’d recommend opening all three doors.  These doors can not only help you get your first job at a desired company, they’re also opportunities to network with those who are like-minded.

I didn’t know it at the time, but even at twelve I was building my resume working at my parents’ store.  When I got to college, I was thrilled to take advantage of a managerial position there.  Handling vendor invoicing and assisting with meeting budgeting goals let me apply some of what I was learning in my finance classes to a real-world setting.

Serve in a leadership role of any sort, even if it’s not in finance.  For me, becoming a treasurer of student organization in college, then a treasurer of an alumni organization on my resume stood out to employers.

Philanthropy also stood out.  Volunteering within my local community has always been a part of my life—from painting fences to raking leaves for seniors.  This worked in my favor, too, since I wanted to work for a company who valued social responsibility like me.  Impacting echoes our culture, here.

2.  Branch out further than your job description.

Perceive your job responsibilities as the bare minimum, then seek to expand on it.  Jump into projects, especially those where your involvement can teach you a lot.

Get involved in extra projects that exceed your job responsibilities.  When I’ve finished getting my job done at the satisfaction that’s needed, I reach out to other team members to see how I can pitch in and help.  Support as many people as you can.  Alleviate any unnecessary burdens for the team.  Essentially, make other team members’ jobs easier.  This will show your character and work ethic.

In order to even be considered for those team projects, you have to speak up.  Let people know that you’re looking to hop on and do more.  When there is a need, colleagues and supervisors might not think to ask you otherwise.  It has to be known that you’re willing to branch out, and there is never a better time than the present.

From my professional experience, I became a volunteer member of the service alignment team a few years ago.  This project assessed the amount of labor Brookdale needed to provide the exceptional care we aim for to our residents.  Much of our activity involved going out into the field and learning as much as possible.  Then, we assessed time studies.  Essentially, I acted as a financial liaison for financial planning and analysis for the project.

No, it wasn’t a part of my job description.  However, I can say that my involvement in this project has been by far the most impactful venture I’ve had in my career.  Being an active member of this project team helped me comprehensively understand this industry—the budgeting, the meaning of financial decisions and their effect on our residents.

I continued to get involved in any extra project.  And there are a ton of growth opportunities if you seek them out, especially if you work in an industry and company that are exponentially evolving in size and approach.  Soon we’ll have a project team formulating one pricing platform for all of Brookdale, for example.  Luckily for our Brookdale associates, various finance project teams arise often.

3.  Fit your work in your life—not the other way around.

Sometimes those driven to succeed become obsessed with their end-goal, even compromising taking care of themselves.  The best therapy can sometimes be to step away, relax and return refreshed, ready to tackle the next challenge.  This will look differently for everyone.  Maybe your stress reliever is a daily workout routine, a favorite hobby or activities with your friends and family.

I love to cook.  I’m a big traveler.  And my career has never stopped me from doing what I like to do outside work.  Other industries–especially if you work in finance–push crazy hours.  It’s not like that here, so thankfully I return Monday refreshed from the weekend and ready to dive into the next challenge.  In fact, some friends of mine who also worked in finance at some large public accounting firms transferred to Brookdale for those reasons and more.  This is a result of exemplary leadership.

Work doesn’t seem like work when you focus on the whys.  Even though I do not work at one of our communities or in the field in any aspect, I don’t see myself in the background crunching numbers either.  What I’m doing every day is supporting the associates who do provide care for our residents.  This daily reminder is a constant motivation for me and my desire to succeed at Brookdale.

4. Discover the company you love, then stick with it.

Job tenure can mean a lot for future job opportunities.  Therefore, everyone should find their deal breakers when working for a company.  Once you’ve found the company whose culture, priorities and initiatives fit yours, envision what your future will look like there.  For me, I needed a company who treated me well. I needed leaders who cared about my growth, progress and success.  This sets the standard for my team to go out of our way to support one another.

Yes, it’s quite busy around here lately.  When it gets busy, I won’t argue that it doesn’t get stressful.  However, I look at every stressful moment as an opportunity for success.  I look forward to where I can get through it and look back.  It feels good to end up on the other side better than where I started.

Looking back

When I worked at Piggly Wiggly, I delivered groceries to a senior living community in our town.  Each time I’d visit, residents and care associates always were friendly and interact with me.  I had no idea at the time, but Sterling House of Sussex is a Brookdale community.

It’s funny how things turn out.  Now I get to serve those who work at that community every day.  Especially during stressful times, I like to think of those residents who greeted me each day on my delivery trips.

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