How to Succeed in Business

Mark Dingman '82 knows the key.

The career path of Mark Dingmann, vice president of finance and group controller for Turner Broadcasting System, weaves from job to job, from industry to industry, culminating (to date) in a position giving him financial oversight for operations in a “hugely creative environment.” This path is not a wandering one established by accident or indecision; it is the result of hard work and the determination to learn and to seek opportunities for growth.

When Dingmann graduated in 1982, unemployment was at 9.7 percent. Unable to find a job before graduation, he spent three months knocking on doors before he landed a position with Northwest Airlines Credit Union as an internal auditor. At that time, the credit union was small but growing. The job gave him a foot in the door of the financial services industry. Spurred by a desire to go into public accounting, Dingmann took the CPA exam and went on to another job: this one with accounting firm McGladrey & Pullen, where he worked mostly with financial institutions.

During his years with McGladrey & Pullen, Dingmann worked his way up to a position leading audit work. Eventually, a client recruited him to become controller of American Bank Shares, a small firm in Mankato. His years there were a growing experience – “I learned a lot,” he said – but after a while he wanted to expand his horizons to a bigger job for a bigger company. He moved to Bank One in Ohio, where the company was starting a CFO development program for seasoned professionals. Dingmann met with the CFO and made such an impression that he immediately was made CFO of an Ohio bank. From there, he moved into a job in the bank’s holding company as vice president of finance for the indirect lending unit. Ultimately he found himself heavily involved in acquisition work, including consolidations and downsizing, which “got old,” so he began to look for opportunities outside of banking.

At this point, an acquaintance working for Turner contacted Dingmann. Turner was evaluating expanding its post-production unit and wanted someone to oversee the new Turner Studios operations. After working in that position for a while, Dingmann moved briefly to a management job on the revenue side and then landed in his current position when the company went through reorganization. He enjoys what he is doing and would like to remain at TBS long-term, but he isn’t going to let his career stagnate. His next goal is to lead a business unit.

Dingmann believes his varied career has given him a depth that allows him to provide good business advice. “The opportunity to be part of different industries has given me a different business perspective.” He also appreciates the perspective he gained from his education. “I can’t speak enough about the liberal arts. A liberal arts education gives you a wellrounded background, helps you think and gives you a grounding to be successful. St. Thomas helped me grow up, helped me be comfortable with meeting new people.”

Dingmann’s desire to go to school in an environment where he could comfortably meet new people was one of the reasons he chose St. Thomas. He grew up in the small Minnesota town of Redwood Falls. Most of his classmates were going to state schools, so Dingmann chose St. Thomas, knowing that he’d meet new people in the small classes. He also chose St. Thomas because of its location. “There were a number of reasons,” he said, “the community, the intimacy, the quality and the chance to get to know your professors, not just be a statistic.”

In keeping with his determined drive to learn and grow, Dingmann advises others to take control of their career. “Be open to change. Being a change agent and driving change has helped my career.” He also advises that people identify and implement opportunities to improve. And, he says, “Have a passion for what you do. Be willing to take risks. This allows you to prove yourself and be recognized. Don’t compromise your values. Be true to yourself.”

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