For someone who began his career at First Business Bank in 2014, fresh out of college, Dusan Knezevic is mastering the art of career transitions. He credits the number of people at First Business Bank who have served as mentors and sounding boards to him, but I also think he deserves credit as a positive, motivated, resourceful person who set goals and keeps learning and progressing.
As a senior in college in the Milwaukee area, one of his professors was familiar with First Business Bank and encouraged Dusan to apply, as he wrote about in a blog.
He soon moved from Milwaukee to our Madison headquarters to start his adult life after college as a member of our Deposit Operations team, which handles deposit functions such as wire transfers, client documentation, account maintenance, and fraud issues. “Coming out of college into my first full-time role with a company was a little scary, but I will say that the people I met when I started at First Business Bank made my experience fun, exciting, and enjoyable. I felt like a member of a family and that’s something I will never forget.”
Dusan immediately was paired with an official mentor, and quickly found many coworkers he worked with were helpful and supportive.
“Throughout my career at First Business Bank, I’ve had so many mentors, it’s hard to name them all,” he said. “I really enjoyed the formal mentoring program because it connected me with someone from another area of the bank who I could ask questions about First Business Bank and different career paths. I can’t forget my wonderful peers in Deposit Ops! It was with that team that I learned what a positive impact people have on an organization.”
After three years of working at First Business Bank, Dusan got curious about working at another bank. “I did enjoy my time at the other bank, but there was something missing when I was there,” he said. “That missing piece was the atmosphere and the people we have at First Business Bank. It just didn’t feel the same.”
So, eight months later, he’d gotten his answer and decided to return to First Business Bank, taking a position in Loan Support — processing loan applications, reviewing loan documents, and handling client service — and shifting to our Milwaukee-area office in Brookfield.
“When I moved to Loan Support, I had a great team of awesome people! I was so green in this role and had no clue what I was doing,” he said. “Loan Processing Team Lead Debbie Meysembourg would sit with me for hours to teach me everything I needed to be successful. The entire team set aside valuable time to teach me things — that was a great feeling.”
Again, he made another transition to Client Relationship Associate under the guidance of a supportive manager who has since left First Business Bank. “She was one of those people who truly cares about your success,” he said. “She would ask me what I wanted to do with my career and we would have chats about what the next years could look like. She was one of the most influential people in my career to date and will always remain a friend!”
Throughout this time as he contemplated his options, Dusan says he always consulted Wendy Carlson, Senior Compensation and Benefits Manager, in Human Resources, who has become his trusted mentor. “What a mentor Wendy is,” he said. “I can call and ask her just about anything and she will give it to me straight! I bounced so many ideas off Wendy and she was often the nudge I needed to pursue the next level in my career. It’s really nice having people you can count on.”
While others might define a mentor differently, Dusan said a mentor to him is anyone who spent time to teach him something or to broaden his horizons. “That’s every single person I’ve worked with,” he said. “That’s what separates First Business Bank from other places out there. I don’t have any one single mentor, but rather a collection of influential people who have helped me along the way.”
Shifting to Sales
In 2021, Dusan was hired on our Equipment Finance team, a Specialty Finance group that works primarily with manufacturers and vendors to provide financing for their customers’ equipment purchases. As Sales Associate – Equipment Finance, he learned even more about our clients, prospects, and many equipment-dependent industries. In 2022, Dusan was promoted to Program Manager - Equipment Finance.
“Every single day I learn something new,” he said. “It feels so nice that my strategic planning since I started here has landed me the role I wanted to be in from the beginning”
Moreover, he says while he did have experience with clients, sales is a different animal. “David Sook hired me into a role in which I had very little experience and he’s taken me under his wing to learn the ropes,” he said. “How awesome is it to have someone who cares so deeply about you and your success?
“I have to say that each and every person on our team has been a mentor to me in one way or another,” he said. I can pick up the phone and call anyone on the team and ask a question and they will take the time to answer. I just can’t thank everyone enough. It truly means more to me than anyone knows.”
There’s only so far a group of mentors will take you before you need to harness your initiative and get outside your comfort zone. Dusan’s best advice to anyone seeking career growth is to ask questions.
“I mean it, ask the questions,” he said “Call me and ask me questions if you’d like! I asked my former manager how I could get into the role I’m in now. She reached out to David and asked him to meet with me. What if I never asked that question? Don’t feel like you’re bothering anyone by reaching out to them. I feel very strongly that anyone at First Business Bank would be happy to help a fellow peer with any questions they may have.”