Dara Biederman, First Business Bank

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Dara Biederman, vice president – trust advisor, First Business Bank.
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What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

Dealing with complex financial and business situations and coordinating the right team to ensure that we are providing the best possible service to our clients is challenging. We want to ensure we are meeting their needs with the right experts with a deep well of technical knowledge. The most rewarding part for me is helping people achieve their goals, both financially and personally. As a former social worker and public interest attorney, my passion remains in being a helper and seeing people overcome perceived or real barriers to find success.

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

I admire all women who excel at their chosen career, but especially those with the drive and entrepreneurial spirit to start their own businesses. Several of my female attorney friends have started their own firms and the fearlessness required to create a business and profession with so much uncertainty and risk inspires me to push myself outside my comfort zone.

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

Right now. Every job change has proven to be the right move for me and the skills and experiences I gained with each have brought me here. I am continually in search of learning opportunities to broaden my skills and be a more productive person who contributes to her workplace and the larger community.

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

I would tell myself that an unconventional career path not only will not hinder my job prospects but that having a distinctive combination of skills and experience is what makes me stand out in my profession and enhances my ability to relate to people. Having worked in several different businesses and fields, I have developed a strong sense of empathy and recognize that all people bring valuable perspectives through their different backgrounds and unique challenges in their daily lives.

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

Dane County — and Madison specifically — has so many benefits of living in a larger city. Theater, live music, and ethnic foods from all over the world are well represented here. At the same time, I see people I know everywhere I go, which makes Madison feel like a small town. Having grown up in a suburb of New York City, I find this area to be a wonderful compromise for people like me seeking both the culture found in big cities while also having so much beautiful nature around us, from lakes to state parks to bike paths galore.

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

I have an affinity for comedies and can quote some of my favorite movies from start to finish. Co-workers can hear me drop Caddyshack or Mel Brooks references in everyday conversation, if they’re paying attention. I also developed the ability to determine the source of coffee beans simply by tasting black coffee, a skill picked up while managing a coffee shop in between college and law school.

What are your guilty pleasures?

My vacation time is almost always spent traveling with friends from all over the country — and even a friend from Japan! — to see live music. I’m in awe of musicians and all artists who bring their visions to life and continually reinvent themselves. Plus, dancing is the best medicine for living a busy, stressful life. I am also a self-declared foodie and love discovering new cuisines from all over the world. Eating is my favorite pastime.

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