Ben Udell, Class of 2011
IB is celebrating 20 years of the 40 Under 40 in 2020, and will be catching up with past recipients to see what they’ve been up to since they were honored. This week features Ben Udell, SVP of consumer banking, Monona Bank.
What have you accomplished in your professional life/career since your 40 Under 40 selection?
I’ve been proud to stick with and be a part of Monona Bank’s growth since 2011. We’ve gone from $350 million in assets to nearly $1 billion, and three branches to nine. To help lead the retail team through an acquisition, significant technology changes to the industry, and simply growing at a fast clip has been exciting and fulfilling. I’ve also contributed significantly to the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s Retail Committee and currently chair that group. I find it very fulfilling to support bankers from across the entire state.
What accomplishments, milestones, or endeavors have you attained in your personal life since your 40 Under 40 selection?
Educationally, I earned my Graduate School of Banking degree (based at the UW) and an MBA from University of Massachusetts–Amherst.
I’ve got three Ironmans, seven half Ironmans, a 50k run, three marathons, and probably 30-plus half marathons under my belt.
And I married my friends, so that was cool!
If you were to “do it all over again,” what (if anything) would you do differently throughout your career?
Early on, I would have been more involved in networking events related to my industry. The network of friends and contacts has been awesome, but starting earlier would have been even better. I would have been more proactive with technology when it didn’t directly affect my role. It’s amazing how big a difference even the little stuff can matter when you’re trying to solve problems, improve, or help clients. Lastly, video — it’s so much easier to connect by video. I would have taken classes in video editing, content development, and digital marketing … if only there were more hours in the day.
How did your 40 Under 40 selection help your career?
It’s amazing how many people I meet with who share this honor, and it’s a quick connection. You’re instantly engaged with what they do, when they were selected, and how their career has developed.
What is something that you have a new passion for since the time of your induction — either professionally or personally?
Professionally, I’m getting more into video creation and helping drive technology change at the bank. Instead of waiting for change to come, I’m pushing more out and leading more on this topic.
Personally, it’s clearly the athletic side of my life. It’s better for my health, it’s fun, I make new friends, and it’s simply enjoyable. This year I’m focusing on cycling and want to enter as many different styles of racing as I can! I’ll never compete to win events, so I think the experience of many different disciplines is exciting.
Based on your experience, do you have any advice for today’s young professionals (under 40)?
My advice is always timeless. Find a good mentor or surround yourself with people who have the same values as you do, get involved in as many experiences as you can to find out what you enjoy and what you’re good at, work for an organization you believe in, and always look for ways to get better that are personally inspiring and engaging. If you do those well, your career will find you and many doors will open.
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