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Alumni Profiles

The Network - April 2014

Brian Hansen

Brian Hansen got his start at Deloitte back in 1986.  His decision to join Deloitte at the time came down to the people and the culture. “As is probably still the case today,” he says, “Deloitte was the kind of place where I felt I could succeed and still have some balance between life and work.” Brian spoke with us recently about his days at Deloitte, sharing stories, explaining his decision to return to Deloitte for a second round, and bringing us up to speed on his current role at the Twin Cities-based global medical device manufacturer, St. Jude Medical.

Describe your current role.
I am Vice President of Finance and Supply Chain for the Cardiovascular and Ablation Therapies Division at St. Jude Medical, with responsibility for about 300 people in Finance and Supply Chain globally.  It took me this long in my career to find what I would call my sweet spot. I get to work closely with the R&D engineers that develop new life saving devices, and the manufacturing group that builds them once they are approved. I don't have to deal with the technical side of accounting and financial reporting stuff that I may have been good at, but didn’t enjoy doing nearly as much as this.

Did you have any mentors at Deloitte right out of the gate?
The manager on my first job ever at Deloitte became a strong mentor.  He really took me under his wing. He showed me that it’s not just what you can write down on a piece of paper that matters, it’s also how you behave and the image you project of yourself and Deloitte that is equally as important.

You left to take a role in industry and later returned to Deloitte.
I wasn't initially looking to come back to Deloitte, but some key people I had kept in contact with thought I would be a good fit to help lead the Enterprise Risk Services (ERS) practice in Minneapolis. After several months of talking, they ultimately convinced me to make the move back to Deloitte and that they would support me.  I have to say coming back to Deloitte was one of the best things I did for my career. Having the industry experience gave me a lot of credibility with clients.

Did you develop any new mentoring relationships after you returned to Deloitte?
Shortly after I returned, there was partner named to lead the practice area I was in.   At first, I was taken aback and not sure what that meant for my goal of leading the ERS practice.  Ultimately, my relationship with him became very positive.  He was passionate about my development and making sure my accomplishments were visible to the right people in Deloitte. I strongly believe that wherever you are, you need to have a sponsor — more than one if you can. You’ve got to have someone who's willing to go to bat for you and speak out on your behalf.  This partner did that for me, and I will always be grateful for that. It made leaving Deloitte the second time that much harder.

What drew you to St. Jude Medical?
I had a pretty short list of companies that I would have considered leaving Deloitte to go work for, and St. Jude Medical was on it. They were a client that I had helped cultivate for Deloitte, and I found the whole area of life saving medical devices fascinating.  

What advice would you give someone just starting out and considering Deloitte?
My son will be in that position soon, and what I tell him and others is that if you start at Deloitte, stay as long as you can. Three or four years in public accounting equals ten to twelve years in industry in terms of opportunity, visibility, and exposure. So don’t leave too early and don’t leave for the wrong reasons. If you're leaving because of politics, for example, there’s politics everywhere. That's not something you can run away from.

What advice would you have for current practitioners considering a move into industry?
Keep your relationships intact. You never know where your job is going to lead or when you're going to need help or input from other people.

How has your Deloitte experience helped you in future roles?
At Deloitte, let's face it; there are a lot of fire drills. That's just the nature of the business. But the skill sets that you develop managing through that and the ability to perform your best under pressure are essential; especially the higher up you go in an organization. We're in the throes of developing our operating plan right now, and while it stresses some people out, I get charged by it. It reminds me of the good old days!