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Executive Leadership: Ann Kneifel

BY Ann Kneifel IN Agency Life

Whether it’s crunching numbers or traveling out west, passion drives her actions. For 15 years, Ann Kneifel, chief financial officer, has overseen the balance sheets at Hirons, ensuring that bills and salaries are paid. We sat down with Ann to learn more about her career.
Where did you go to school?

I went to school at Miami of Ohio, where I studied interior design and business management. When you’re that young, you don’t know where your career is going to go. It’s neat to look back at where you started and where your path has taken you.

What was your first job in the industry, and how did your path lead you to Hirons?
After graduating, I started at Sears in the accounting department. (You should have seen the huge computer rooms.) After that, I was the business manager for a dental office. I’ve spent my entire career in accounting, but in different industries. That’s what I love about accounting – all types of businesses need accountants, which has given me the opportunity to serve a variety of organizations.

I joined Hirons when we were in Bloomington, and it’s been a great place for this chapter of my career. Although I am in an accounting role, I love being in a creative environment and seeing new people come in after college because they have fresh ideas. We also have people who have been with the company for many years. It’s a nice mix.

What is something that makes your day-to-day life unique?
Accounting tends to be a very routine job but, because I work at an advertising agency, I never know what is going to happen. I walk in the door and I just never know. Some days that means reading scripts or recording clients’ radio spots. Peyton Manning, the mayor and the governor have been in here over the years. Every day is exciting!

What would you describe as your “time capsule” accomplishment? If you could take only one project, accomplishment or victory with you from your career, what would that be and why?
My proudest accomplishment was earning my Executive MBA at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Going back to school when I was 58 was very challenging. Most of the other students were in their early 40s. I had not been a student since I was 18 years old and I was working full time, so it was intimidating. I didn’t think I could do it. But it’s so important to continue to learn throughout your whole life. My father instilled a passion for learning in me.

What advice would you give to a young professional?
Work hard. Be persistent. You’re going to have great successes and great failures. Work through all of those days with a smile on your face. You can hardly go wrong with a good attitude. Take responsibility for your actions. You’re going to make mistakes, but ride through it.
Whether it’s for work or leisure, read everything. I am a voracious reader. One of my recent favorite books is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s a very well-written book. One of my all-time favorites is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

Of all of the agencies in the industry, what makes Hirons different?
There is a purpose behind everything we do at Hirons. We always strive do the right thing. Tom Hirons goes out of his way to help mentor young professionals. That creates a high-energy environment of hard workers.

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