21 Women Making An Impact: Andi Burkhart, Region Consumer Banking Manager, Bremer Bank

Written by: Brady Drake
  • United Way Volunteer and Investor
  • Volunteer on the United Way Community Investment Committee
  • United Way Emerging Leader
  • United Way Employee Campaign Coordinator

What is one lesson you have learned? How did you learn it? 

I have learned many lessons over the course of my career, primarily in the last several years. One lesson that resonates was during my role as an Organizational Development Consultant. I had the opportunity to facilitate the learnings from the book Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute. This publication has several powerful takeaways to help leaders become better leaders through individual awareness and how one perceives others they interact with and lead. The overall message is to avoid self-betrayal by thinking and acting ‘outside the box’. The content provides guidance on how to become more self-aware which results in the ability to influence those around you more effectively. This book opened my eyes to see those I work directly with as well as individuals in my personal life from a different perspective. While I am curious about my nature and interested in learning about others; the knowledge I was able to take away from this book has given me the ability to create even better relationships all around. I have been able to apply my learnings within my volunteer work. I recognize the wants and needs of others are just as important as my own. My intentions are to help others – and by effectively listening and asking questions to truly understand the needs, I feel I have been able to have a greater impact as a volunteer. 

Bremer Bank recently supported students and families who have experienced homelessness in a big way – why and how did your business make an impact? 

Bremer Bank’s support of communities is why we exist – our purpose is to help cultivate thriving communities. Otto Bremer, founder, started this legacy over 75 years ago; instilling the impact employees can have on others and communities through volunteering. Bremer employees volunteer on average over 32,000 hours yearly keeping this legacy alive. This past fall Bremer partnered with the United Way in support of the Home for Good program with a goal to provide 1500 Welcome Home Kits for those transitioning to permanent housing across the Bremer footprint. Each of these kits were filled with over 70 household items, including a handmade fleece blanket. In November, the Fargo-Moorhead Bremer locations distributed 90 of the Welcome Home Kits to local non-profits with the help of United Way. 

In 2019 as Bremer celebrated its 75th Anniversary, we partnered with United Way to assemble 5000 backpacks to help with the School Supply Drive. Bremer team members volunteered to fill the backpacks with the needed school supplies and shipped them to United Way locations across Minnesota – Wisconsin – North Dakota. 500 of these backpacks were donated to the United Way School Supply Drive in Fargo Moorhead on behalf of Bremer. 

This year Bremer gave each employee an extra eight hours of paid volunteer time. This extra time was in recognition of the need to focus our efforts in support of diversity, equity/ inclusion, and more. Holding true to the desire to cultivate thriving communities. 

What advice do you have for women trying to grow and build their careers? 

Live a life of curiosity and purpose – be courageous. Being courageous in the sense you won’t let others or feelings hold you back from an opportunity that will help you learn and grow. As I reflect on my own career development, it was during a time when the managers in the industry where I worked were primarily male. I had an opportunity to become part of the management team early in my career. I recall a time shortly after becoming a manager when the CEO of the company (also male) arranged a meeting for the local managers. Here I was less than a few months in the job gathered in a conference; and the only female in the room. As the CEO walks into the conference room, I could just sense the confidence and power. My heart started to beat, and I remember swallowing and telling myself ‘just go introduce yourself.’ I walked towards the CEO and professionally introduced myself. The CEO graciously extended his hand and we engaged in a brief conversation. While this may seem like a small act, it was an act of courage for me. This act set the foundation for me to continue to overcome my fears. In looking back, would I have taken more chances or acted differently? Maybe. What I do know is every experience good or bad has led me to where I am today, and my experience will take me beyond my expectations in the future. I still ask myself ‘what do I want to do when I grow up’ – knowing I am already grown up. I am ready to take on a new challenge any time that ‘matches’ my strengths/passions and provides continuous growth. Some find their answers early in their career, some find their answer in the middle of their career, and some find their answer later in their career. Love what you do, learn while doing it, and share what you know so others can benefit around you – and before you know it you will have opportunities come your way that you never anticipated. 

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.