Name: Dennis J. Vogel
Current Work Experience:President & CEO of Citizens State Bank since 2005 (recently named one of the top 100 community banks in the Country), based in La Crosse with offices additional offices in Clayton, Eau Claire, and Onalaska.
Past Work Experience: I began my banking career as an Intern-Credit Analyst at Coulee Bank. After graduating from UW-L, I worked as a full time Credit Analyst at Coulee Bank prior to moving up through the company to hold various positions to include: Security Officer, Network Administrator, Y2K Coordinator, Merchant Card Manager, Commercial Loan Officer, and finally, Vice President-Credit Administration. I resigned from Coulee Bank in 2005 to open Citizens State Bank of La Crosse and become President & CEO.
Advice for current students in the CBA that might help them prepare for the future: Good grades are important: however, they will not guarantee that you will get a job, since others have good grades as well. If you cheat, you are just cheating yourself and not realizing the full potential of your college education. Also, I can’t stress the importance of networking and obtaining an internship. Without my internship, I would not be where I am today. Experience and the connections you make through networking will open doors to new opportunities.
Advice for soon to be CBA graduates that might help them in the
future: The most important thing your first job out of college should do is build your resume. This will lay the foundation for the rest of your career, so don’t go for a job just because the company is offering you the most money.
Often, these are dead-end jobs with high turnover. Instead, find a job/profession that you are passionate about, and it will not feel like work at all. When you find that job, do everything you can to stand out – work hard, put in more
time than the bare minimum 8-5, and share your unique talents that differentiate yourself from your peers.
As a college graduate, nothing is owed to you. You must take advantage of every great opportunity presented to you. Don’t be afraid to take risks, especially when you are young. I recommend the book, “How to Think Like A Boss and Get Ahead at Work” by Barry Eigen. It offers great advice for standing out in your job, and it is required reading for all my employees.
Greatest memory while attending UW-L: The one memory that sticks out is the first time I toured the campus during my Senior year in high school. There was lightly snowing that day, and while walking through campus and looking up at the bluffs, I knew this felt like home and told myself that this was where I needed go. Right then and there, I made my mind up, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. I also really enjoyed our “networking sessions” before and after each MBA class at the local pub, which allowed me to really get know some other business members in the community and learn from their expertise.
How the CBA helped Dennis succeed: UW-L is a great school with high standards, and I believe that the teachers who had real life experience in the work force were really beneficial. Throughout my undergraduate and Masters programs, I believe UW-L did a great job utilizing case studies, which allowed me to become an effective problem solver early on in my career differentiate myself from my peers. Also, Career Services (Karla Stanek) opened the door to my internship at Coulee Bank. If this did not happen I have no idea where I would be right now. I am forever grateful to her and UW-L.