Faces Of Fargo Business: Summer Hanson, Becky Walen And Irina Sagert

Written by: Fargo Inc Staff

Photos by Hillary Ehlen

We like to think of the Fargo business community as a giant puzzle and the people who comprise it as the different but equally essential pieces. Take one person, one company, or one industry away, and the picture becomes incomplete. Faces of Fargo Business is our chance to piece that puzzle together each month and celebrate the countless people who make this such a great place to work.

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Summer Hanson

Director of Finance & Administration, United Way of Cass-Clay

Summer Hanson

Who she is

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead with an accounting degree and shortly thereafter obtained my CPA certification. I started my career at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota right out of college, and held a variety of positions with increasing responsibility over the course of 12 years. I worked with so many wonderful people but ultimately felt I needed a change to focus more on family. I began working for United Way of Cass-Clay in 2013 and those five years have flown by. I really enjoy working with a smaller team where my co-workers are an extension of my family and care deeply about their work.

A typical day in her life…

I am a morning person so I like to get going early and front load my work day with more complex projects that usually involve data analysis. I have a few meetings sprinkled throughout the day, but the majority of my time is spent working independently, which is what I prefer. My perfect day is one with no meetings where I get to spend the entire day playing around in excel spreadsheets analyzing data. I am lucky to work for United Way with a culture that focuses on work/life balance. Upon returning from maternity leave with my second child, I adjusted my schedule down to 32 hours a week so I typically leave the office around 3. With two children under the age of 2, this extra time to run errands and get supper on the table takes the added stress out of my life, which means when I am at work I can be completely focused.

How you can help her…

One thing that the local business community could do to help United Way of Cass-Clay is to encourage their teams and employees to invest time to learn about issues that are impacting our community, and how United Way is working to address them. For example, this year we produced a video titled “I Wish My Teacher Knew…” which features local students and how they responded to that question. Their answers reinforced the need to provide mental health services right on site within our schools, and United Way is proud to invest to make that happen.

Becky Walen AFC® CFP®

SVP/Senior Wealth Management Advisor, Bell Bank

Becky Walen

Who she is

With 20 years in financial services, my expertise lies with institutional services, nonprofits, investment management and financial planning. I serve on Bell‘s trust and investment committees as well as numerous nonprofit boards and committees. I earned a master of science in financial planning from North Dakota State University and a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Mary. I also hold the Certified Financial Planner® and Accredited Financial Counselor® designations.

I love working alongside clients to help them accomplish their goals. Having worked in a variety of roles throughout my career, I’ve learned that change is the status quo, and I’m not afraid to ‘get into the weeds’ if that’s what it takes to meet our clients’ expectations.

My husband, Greg, and I moved to Fargo from the Twin Cities in 2004 to raise our family, and it turned out to be the best decision we’ve made as a couple! In the height of the housing boom, we saw friends and co-workers all around us buying the biggest houses they could finance and thought we were crazy to move to Fargo. We bought an A-frame near Fargo North High School and cut our mortgage in half while saving and paying down debt. (It turns out we weren’t so crazy.)

We live in north Fargo with our three kids: Calvin, Ella and Ray. We also have a Scottish terrier/poodle mix named Frankie who sometimes looks more like a pot-bellied pig than a pooch! We keep very busy with our kids’ activities and love spending time at the lake in the summer.

What she would give a TED Talk on

I would give a TED Talk on fostering healthy attitudes and habits around personal finance. When it comes to financial management, there are a lot of emotions involved – and not all of them are positive. People often carry perceptions about personal finance as they’ve grown into adulthood – perceptions based on how their parents managed money or seeing their siblings and friends manage money and situations that may or may not have worked out. For many people, the first step in improving their finances is changing their attitude and habits about money.

I recommend

Irina Sagert

Financial Analyst, Sanford Health

Irina Sagert

Who she is

I am a Financial Analyst at Sanford Health. Originally, I came from Russia to go to school in the US and get my MBA, but stayed after finding a job, friends and a second family. I am a part of a Finance team that is responsible for supporting the Fargo operations of Sanford Health. As a Financial Analyst, I am responsible for the monthly financial review, annual budgeting and various types of analysis and project. I enjoy what I do and I am very passionate about empowerment of women. Volunteering at YWCA in the finance committee and serving as a board member combines my passion and skills. I also love working with my hands, so doing some DIY at home and volunteering at Habitat for Humanity is another way to combine my hobby and giving back to the community.

Worst piece of advice she’s ever received…

The worst piece of advice I have ever received is to imagine your audience in their underwear if you are nervous speaking in public. Bad idea.

What she would give a TED Talk on…

I would give a talk on resilience in dealing with judgment and negative comments. This all goes back to the quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I think everyone could use a reminder of that both in their personal and professional lives.

I recommend

  • A book that I love and I think everyone should read is “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I have read it as a teenager and it changed my life.
  • One of the best books that I have ever read is “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John Maxwell. I could not believe the book ended so fast! I wish Maxwell can have breakfast with me and tell me his wisdoms every day. His advice is obvious and very simple, but sometimes hard to follow.
  • I would also recommend Dave Ramsey’s podcasts. He talks about simple ways to manage your personal finance to be independent and reach your goals. Those three topics touch on foundations of a happy and mindful living: personal relationships, professional success and financial independence.
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