Dynamic Career in Corporate Taxes
Alumnus with Global Impact
After graduating from Michigan Tech in 1974, a fortunate incident altered the trajectory of Dave Bernard's career before it started. "I was set to interview with the accounting department at Kimberly-Clark,” he says, “and just three days before, they called to say the position was filled, but they could offer me a spot as a tax analyst. I took the job and never looked back.”
“If you maintain a high level of integrity and work harder than the competition, you will always do well.”
In the Kimberly-Clark tax department, Bernard found a surprisingly active professional environment. “Contrary to popular belief, taxes are an incredibly dynamic, fluid area,” he says. “New laws are enacted every year, and interpretations vary depending on the administration in power, so you always have to be on your toes. My job required me to stay current with policy changes in Washington, DC, and across the world.”
Bernard’s thirty-six-year career illustrates an impressive level of commitment, dedication, and focus that impacted not only Kimberly-Clark but the larger world of corporate taxes. Bernard rose from the lowest position in the tax department of Kimberly-Clark to the highest, serving in roles including chief tax officer and vice president for taxes. He was responsible for tax management, tax strategies, risk management, and talent development, and was involved in the resolution of countless complex negotiations with the IRS Office of Appeals and the Department of Justice. In 2005, Bernard was named the vice president for taxes and real estate, and his responsibilities were expanded to include the management of all Kimberly-Clark office facilities, real-estate transactions, and tax-credit real-estate investments.
Bernard applied the same work ethic to his longtime participation in the Tax Executives Institute (TEI), a worldwide organization that aims to improve the standards of practice for tax professionals. Starting from a local chapter membership, Bernard moved up through the ranks to eventually become a member of the board of directors and the TEI international president in 2006–07.
Now retired from TEI and Kimberly-Clark, Bernard is not satisfied to simply rely on past successes. He continues to make an impact, both in the tax world and at Michigan Tech.
He provides corporate tax consulting for a variety of large enterprises and holds a government-appointed position on the IRS Advisory Council, which advises the IRS commissioner about efficient tax administration.
Bernard is also an active member of the School of Business and Economics Dean’s Advisory Council and welcomes the chance to give back. “As a Houghton native, Michigan Tech has a special place in my heart,” he says. “The problem-solving skills I developed there have served me well throughout my career, and I am honored to help the University continue to provide quality education.”
Corporate Account Manager
Innovation and Balance are Keys to Success
Marie Cleveland '82 loves her job. As a worldwide corporate account manager for Federal Express, she handles six major accounts and is responsible for bringing in $50 million in sales each year.
“You spend one third of your life at work. Why wouldn’t you find a job you love?”
“We believe in helping clients in any way we can,” she says, “which often involves finding innovative solutions to improve their bottom lines.” This freedom to think and act outside the box is one of Cleveland’s favorite aspects of the position.
Though initially skeptical about working in sales, Cleveland found a talent and a passion for the high level of client interaction. She became a regional recruiter for Roadway Package Systems (RPS) in 1988 and went on to hold various positions with the company. When FedEx purchased RPS in 2000, Cleveland was named a corporate account executive.
There is no doubt that Cleveland has had a big impact at FedEx and is a highly valued employee. FedEx has recognized her contributions with numerous accolades over the years, including Rookie of the Year, Senior Account Representative of the Year, Corporate Account Executive of the Year, Ambassador's Club Award, and the Largest Corporate Account Close Award. In 2010, she received the highest honor at FedEx, the President’s Club Award.
The key to professional satisfaction, according to Cleveland, is finding balance. “I love my job, but it is not my life,” she says. “One of the great things about FedEx is that they promote priorities; for me, it’s faith, family, and FedEx.”
Along with her family—her husband, Michael, is a 1982 chemical engineering graduate, and daughter, Kerstin, is a chemical engineering first-year student at Michigan Tech—Cleveland is heavily involved in her community. She is the president of her neighborhood association, the president of the Illinois Cook County chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a member of various church committees, and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
In addition, Cleveland finds the time to connect with Michigan Tech. As a member of the Presidential Council of Alumnae, she works with the Society of Women Engineers, serves as the vice president of the Chicago Alumni Chapter, is an Alumni Association Gold Carpet and Life Member, and works to recruit students and help fellow alumni find and keep jobs by setting up networking events and job fairs.
“I have always loved Michigan Tech,” she says. “When I was a student, I didn’t realize how much of my tuition was subsidized. Volunteering with the University is my way of returning the favor, of giving back.”
Health Care VP
Improves Patient and Caregiver Satisfaction
Dave Chaudier ’93 has a four-part approach to work: “Don’t fear failure, don’t let anything surprise you, learn from your mistakes, and don’t put up with anyone’s negativity.”
“Making big impacts in health care is all about quality patient care. It is entirely possible to save money while keeping caregivers happy and giving them the tools they need to perform well.”
As the vice president of operations at St. Luke’s Medical Center, the largest hospital in Wisconsin’s Aurora Healthcare system, Chaudier applies this pragmatic philosophy to leading the cardiac, surgical, and radiology services lines, and hospital support departments including central services. He is responsible for more than one thousand caregivers, over $200 million in expenses, and total charges of more than $1 billion.
One of the youngest vice presidents at Aurora, Chaudier employs business strategies that impact patient care.
“My primary goal is to take care of the caregivers so they can provide the best care and experience to every patient we serve,” he says. To that end, Chaudier set a goal for 2010 to increase caregiver engagement and patient loyalty scores while cutting $13 million in costs, improving scheduling, and streamlining internal processes.
A career in health care management was not always in the cards for Chaudier, who initially entered Michigan Tech as a mechanical engineering student but switched to become a business major.
After graduating from Tech, Chaudier worked in manufacturing and management consulting before accepting a position as the operations improvement coordinator for Aurora. He moved into a position as a financial analyst, joined the company’s Leadership Academy, and eventually moved into operations as the regional business manager for cardiac services.
There, Chaudier demonstrated an exceptional ability to step into and assist floundering departments, cut costs, implement lean processes, and turn operations around. When an unexpected shift in management left him with no one in the positions above or below him, he took the reins of the cardiac interventional unit in what he calls the greatest professional challenge of his career.
“For eighteen months, I performed the duties of the manager, director, vice president, and business manager in one of the largest labs in the country,” he says. “It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.” Chaudier’s success in managing the high-stress cath and EP labs led to his promotion to the regional director of cardiac services in 2006, a position he held until he was named vice president in 2010.
As he settles into his position, Chaudier is anything but complacent. He looks forward to adding additional responsibilities and cites his well-rounded Michigan Tech education as an important career in influence. “Engineering teaches you a hands-on approach to problem solving, while business focuses on the people and numbers,” he says. “Together, they make a powerful combination.”
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.