What's it like to work at FHB?
Get the inside scoop from our valued team members in this special blog series.
Chris Buurman has been a Technical Consultant at FHB since 2022. In this role, he assists our Principal Consultants by educating and supporting clients as they implement process improvements and software solutions. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, with an emphasis in accounting.
We recently sat down with Chris to discuss his experience at FHB. The following are excerpts from that meeting.
Q: What did you do before you joined FHB?
A: Previously, I worked for the city of La Vista, Nebraska—doing their accounting and ledgers, financial statements, budget book, a little bit of everything... I [was there for] three years…before that, I was an auditor for RSM here in Omaha.
Q: What drew you to FHB?
A: I had worked with Darryl [Darryl Parker, CPA, CMA, Director, Solutions Design & Architecture for FHB]. He and I worked one-on-one with Workiva, and... I really enjoyed [it]. As an auditor, working with financial statements all the time, I thought to myself, “Man, this is really neat!” I just thought, for all the clients I had, how this would have benefited [them while] doing their ACFRs or their quarterly reports.
After reaching out, I talked with Jamie [FHB President Jamie Black]—which kind of caught me off guard, you never really speak to the owners of companies when you interview—[he seemed relaxed and authentic], he said, “We're not here to run you down..., we don't expect you to work long hours. We just want you to get [the work] done. In the end, we're all on the same team.” So, that really stuck with me, and pretty much sealed the deal.
Q: Have you achieved any career goals since you've been here?
A: The adjustment, to me, was...learning how to work from home, [to] be productive and not let outside interference deter [me] from my work. It's really helped me and made me grow as a person, to be more...responsible, organized.
Another piece I started learning that I never thought I would jump into is...writing structured query language (SQL) and queries...I love doing things where I'm kind of in there meddling and fixing and so it's [expanded] my way of thinking [about] what I do [and] how I do it.
And all my years, I was...a thrill junkie, I wanted to be next to life and death. Doing this accounting work and trying to find something that I could...find enjoyment in, it was kind of tough for me. But doing this...[implementing] software...evolving processes, and how we do things...it helps me learn how to adapt my accounting skills into something that I can enjoy...it has been great growth for me.
Q: What's your favorite thing about working here?
A: The challenges, every client is a challenge...finding out how to give them what they need, with what they have... I like a challenge...it's like, okay, game on, let's do this.
And then...working here, I thought maybe I would miss that connection with people. Because I’m old school. So, I don't like text messages. I don't like emails, I like face-to-face conversation...because there's so much that can be lost in translation. I thought I’d miss that piece. But...with technology, I can connect with people. And I find that I know my coworkers better here than I did at my other jobs.
[And if] you get a phone call from Jamie, it’s not, “Should I freak out? The boss is calling!” He's calling me like, “Hey, Chris, how are things going?” ...and that's just really nice.
This job isn't for everyone. So, I think it is important that [people joining FHB] have [the] type of personality we're looking for...because you do have to interact. [People might think], “Oh, I could sit behind a computer, I could do that,” but there's more to it. The clients want to see your face [and] interact with you. And just like with anybody in life, your clients are going to feel more comfortable...the more they see your face and the more they talk to you—and feel relaxed doing it.
I think [we’re] strategic in how we [recruit] people and...[the] culture we have, it's very tight. We're very close and we're very professional...[there are no] office politics...everybody’s open...so it’s a really good environment and culture they’ve set up here.
Q: Can you think of a time when one of your colleagues stepped in to help you?
A: I reach out to [Darryl] a lot. Because I do a lot with Wdata and queries...that guy is probably one of the busiest people who work here. He's got so much on his plate...but...he's always helping me.
I've reached out to Faith [Faith Olanipekun, CPA, Principal Consultant]. [She has] helped me [with organization and] structure. I ask Jill [Jill Moats, CPA, Principal Consultant] for help all the time...as a teacher, she's probably the gold standard... so I get help from people all day. And I do give back; I help when I can...maybe that goes back to the culture of the place, but we're all that way. We all just kind of bounce around helping each other...and it's really amazing. It's really cool.
Q: How has FHB demonstrated that they care about you as a person?
A: Just by reaching out to me all the time, just saying, "How are you doing?" I mean, that's huge. We’re all on the same level, because we're on the same team.
And then...I had surgery this year, it was unexpected. I told them I'd be gone for a day. Probably not smartest thinking on my side, but I was like, “I can do this.” And it turned out to be a week. Elaine and Kathy [Kathy Drumm, Manager, Human Resources] just said, “Chris, get better...It's good. The work’s going to get done, just take care of yourself. Don't worry about a thing.” That meant a lot to me, because it wasn't planned, and we had a lot of work going on. And I know people had to pick up my slack. But nobody complained. Everybody [was just] glad to see me come back.
Q: What do you think FHB gets right, that a lot of other companies miss?
A: It's the personality. Most people are looking at a resume, and they're saying... just check the boxes...they got this degree, this degree, this degree. But I think here and especially [in] the work-at-home environment, you can’t stress enough [that it] takes the right personality. It takes that certain character, where a person is driven to be good, have ethics and morals, buy in. Finding that right personality, that right conviction in somebody is important.
You get people with degrees every day of the week, but they're not going to be able to come in here and do what we need to do, and function in a work-[from]-home environment properly, and get the work done. I think that's what [FHB gets] right.
Q: How does FHB support you to do your best work?
A: I'll blame it on Waldo [Waldo Nell, Manager, Development]. He keeps my laptop running.
Just the tools of the trade, [so we are] able to do what we need to do, and not skimping on it. The monitors...I have two 27-inch monitors. I'm getting older, so I have glasses, and I hate zooming in on these little laptops...they know our needs and... Waldo is always there to help me get back up and running. The guy's a godsend.