Colleen Donnelly, Thompson Investment Management

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Colleen Donnelly, CFO, Thompson Investment Management.

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

The most challenging and most rewarding aspects of my job come from the same place — juggling the various responsibilities associated with finance and human resources. Both areas of responsibility encompass a cross section of the operational needs of the companies I work with and for on a daily basis. It is challenging because the deadlines can stack up at certain times of the year, yet rewarding when it all comes together and actually gets done on time.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

I look up to a lot of people to be honest, but the people who really impress me are the ones who are successful on all levels and maintain a good work-life balance. I know a lot of people who have been able to do this; it’s hard to name names. I find exceptionally good role models in my immediate family.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

I have been working for over 30 years so I would like to think that I have had more than one high point, but I guess I would have to say having the good fortune of securing my current position with Thompson Investment Management. Not only is working for Thompson like being part of a big family, but Thompson has provided me with the necessary flexibility to care for my kids when they were young and needed to be picked up after school. Of course, my kids are nearly all out of college at this point so those days are long gone, but it was critical at the time and enabled a better work-life balance.

Thinking back on your career, what advise would you give to your 21-year old self?

I don’t have to think to hard to answer that question. My kids are 20, 23, and 25. I have echoed this advice many times over the last few years. No matter what path you pick in life, it is critical that you find a way to become critical. By that I mean determine how you are going to add value either to your company, the company you work for, the college you choose to serve, or the people you want to help.

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What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

Dane County is a wonderful place to raise children. Our community is unique. I have lived in many cities but honestly it is hard to compare Madison to any of them. We have so much to be thankful for from the culture provided by the Overture Center, the activity provided by the university, and the natural beauty provided by the lakes and surrounding areas.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

I am not sure this qualifies as a “talent” but I learned how to ride a unicycle at the age of 12, and believe it or not, much like riding a bicycle, you never forget. The problem with unicycling is there is no coasting, but the upside is a backup career in the circus.

What are your guilty pleasures?

Guilty pleasures seem to abound. I could say a good book or the latest series on Netflix, but honestly travel is it for me at this point. I do not want to wait to see the places on my bucket list. I thoroughly enjoy traveling with my sons. We enjoyed a couple of trips to Europe over the last few years. I am not sure they will ever forget driving through the Cinque Terre in Italy in a stick shift.

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