Bill Hermann '72: "Our choices show who we really are"
As the keynote speaker for the College of Business Administration Alumni Week, Bill Hermann '72, used quotations from the Harry Potter books to emphasize the importance of making ethical and beneficial choices in both career and life.
"The Potter books really stood out for me" Hermann says. It amazed me how many great thoughts were in that series of books." He cited Professor Dumbledore's maxim, "It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
Hermann currently serves as managing partner of Plante & Moran. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University and was a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the national business honor society, and Beta Alpha Psi, the national accounting fraternity for honor students.
Hermann began his career as a co-op student at Plante & Moran in 1971, became an associate in 1977, and a partner in 1981. In 1982, he helped launch the firm's Ann Arbor office and served as office managing partner. He was named group managing partner in 1995, which included responsibility for several offices, industry groups, and service groups. In 2001, he became managing partner and was re-elected in 2005 for a second four-year term.
In his keynote address, he stressed the necessity of choosing to think globally. "Today's businesspeople need to have an idea what people around the world are thinking and doing in regard to the various issues facing us… the perspectives of people around the world are really going to have an impact on us as we move forward."
At the same time, Hermann urged the students in the audience to choose to remain here in the Great Lakes region. He is optimistic about the area's economic future. "Can we possibly afford to not be optimistic? Others are influenced by what we say about our area and there's a lot of great stuff happening here." He cites the area's work ethic, skilled workforce, reasonable cost of living, concentration of private wealth, natural resources, commitment to education and infrastructure as reasons to be positive.
Hermann also suggested that Plante & Moran is a great option for new business graduates and outlined some of the reasons that the company is consistently acknowledged as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by FORTUNE magazine.
He notes, "Plante & Moran's slogan 'Thrive' is what we're all about. It sums up what we wish for both our staff and clients. Wishing, hoping and thinking isn't enough, though. 'Thrive' is active. It means making conscious choices about what you're going to do, who you're going to do it with, where you're going to go."
This care and concern for staff actually helps Plante & Moran's bottom line. Hermann notes that "Happy staff stay with the company for years, which leads to happy clients, and happy clients lead to bigger profits."
Hermann encouraged students who will soon be interviewing for jobs to closely scrutinize potential employers. "Take a look and see if there is an open door to discuss problems and questions at any time, if there is a formal mentoring or buddy program that will help acclimate you to the new environment, and if they will help you with any unusual issues that may come up. Ask yourself, does this organization invest in people and their development and training, and do they emphasize a work life balance?"
"And If you take nothing else away from here today," he adds, "you'll think of Professor Dumbledore and the importance of the right choices."
To hear Hermann's keynote address in its entirety, please visit the UDMcast page.
For photos of the lunch and keynote address, please visit the UDM photo gallery.