Professional Opportunities

Emerging leaders, heads of HR departments actively hiring, and individuals who are growing early-stage businesses or forming entrepreneurial conglomerates.
Professional Opportunities

Emerging Leaders


Juliana Chugg
General Mills’ Meals division

Smart, savvy women aiming to break the glass ceiling with the hammer of performance and persistence would do well to study the career trajectory of Australian native Chugg, whose $2.1 billion Meals division represents 13 percent of General Mills’ net sales. Chugg, who has a strong track record of commercial success growing global brands at the company, was named in an informal Wall Street Journal poll as one of 10 women nationwide who could lead a Fortune 1000 company within five years.

Mike Derheim
The Nerdery

The Nerdery is home to more than 300 notoriously independent-minded nerds, and Derheim is their king. If you need an IT rock star (or are one), you’ll find smarts or sanctuary at the Bloomington company, which provides back-end development that powers interactive creative projects by agencies and other companies. Derheim’s enlightened management approach, highlighted by open communication, transparency and work-life balance, has helped propel the company onto the Inc. 5000 List as well as a newer ranking, the “Flyover 50.”


Shelly Ibach
President and CEO
Select Comfort

Elevated to her current position and named to the company’s board in June, Ibach has deep experience in retail brand management, having served in executive positions at Target, Macy’s and Marshall Field’s. For the past 18 months, she has played a key role in the company’s strategy to elevate brand and store awareness. One of her master strokes was renaming Select Comfort retail outlets Sleep Number stores to eliminate customer confusion.


Leaders Looking For Acquisitions

Angela Busch 
Senior vice president, corporate development

With skill, savvy, and self-awareness, Busch leads a team responsible for Ecolab’s global mergers and acquisitions. she oversees the entire acquisition and financial evaluation process, from prospecting and investigation to due diligence and negotiation to closing. Busch credits her negotiation and communication skills not only to intense preparation but clear purpose, rigorous self-honesty, and authentic behavior.

Mark Copman
Vice president, corporate development and mergers and acquisitions

Tag along with Copman and you’ll be where the action is. Copman has quarterbacked more than 75 transactions since 2006, managing a 20-person deal-making team that extends to Brussels and Shanghai. Known for both pre-acquisition due diligence and managing post-acquisition integration, this former Navy officer has boiled down M&A to a science, starting with six specific questions to determine if a candidate is a good fit.

David Wichmann
Executive vice president and CFO; president, group operations
UnitedHealth Group, Inc.

Quietly instrumental for much of UHG’s growth through acquisitions over the years, Wichmann is constantly scanning the health care horizon for strategic market expansions, such as the February 2012 purchase of Baltimore-based XLHealth, a sponsor of Medicare Advantage health plans. That was just the appetizer for an October blockbuster in which UnitedHealth Group agreed to pay $4.3 billion for 90 percent of Brazil-based Amil Participações S.A., Latin America’s largest health care company.


Leaders Looking to Hire


Marty Davis
President and CEO

The Davis family’s successful businesses cover everything from dairy products to home loans to, most recently, a regional airline. Marty Davis leads Cambria, which prides itself as the only American producer of quartz surfaces—and as a growing Minnesota employer. He has significantly expanded Cambria’s Le Sueur facility twice since its 2001 construction, first doubling its size to 350,000 square feet in 2008, and again this year, with plans to grow the plant to 750,000 square feet and open the doors to 220 new employees by spring. Those with Davis in their network can glean expertise on expansions or on the latest trends in countertops.


Eric Elliott
President and CEO
Prime Therapeutics, LLC

While Eagan has seen an exodus of large employers, including Lockheed Martin and Mesaba Airlines, Eric Elliott’s pharmacy benefit management company has served as a light in the darkness. Last December, he helped Prime Therapeutics land a $500,000 forgivable loan from the state, with a goal of adding 300 local IT and business analyst jobs. By October, the firm had filled about a third of the local positions and was adding roughly 60 workers nationwide each month to its 2,400-employee work force, serving health care clients comprising more than 20 million members. Having Elliott on speed dial could help you manage your company’s health care costs, or it could be your in at a rapidly growing business.

Michael Meyer 
Executive vice president of human resources

If the idea of living and working overseas for a company that just posted quarterly revenue of $3 billion appeals to you, it might be wise to send a LinkedIn request to Meyer. He’s responsible for human resources globally for the company’s 38,000 employees and is an architect of Ecolab’s Talent Pipeline model for developing great leaders from within. Ecolab is a world leader in water-, hygiene-, and energy-related technologies and services.

Lori Sweere 
Executive vice president for human capital
UnitedHealth Group, Inc.

Sweere and her team of human capital partners help executives throughout the company onboard hundreds of new employees every year, while also assisting with shifts that require reassigning and sometimes downsizing people across divisions and locations. Between upsizing, downsizing, and rightsizing, Sweere—who’s been honored by multiple HR organizations for her stellar work— undoubtedly leads one of the most active HR teams in the country.


Shirley Weis
Chief administrative officer and vice president
Mayo Clinic

What better way to add to your professional experience than to be mentored by a national leader in health care administration, while working for the top brand in the business? Weis has made a habit of mentoring employees, especially women and minorities. Once hired, you could be there to stay. After Mayo’s operating margin dropped to zero in the wake of the financial meltdown of 2008, Weis worked her magic and avoided layoffs altogether. But hurry—industry buzz is that Weis could soon be leaving for a high-profile post on Capitol Hill.


Scott Wine 
Polaris Industries, Inc.

Whether you’re looking for the scoop on the state’s best riding trails, tips on growing a work force, or you simply need a job, Wine’s a Rolodex requisite. Since taking over as CEO in 2008, he has diversified Medina-based Polaris’ portfolio and introduced a slew of new products, including motorcycles, snowmobiles, and all-terrain, side-by-side, and electric vehicles. In September, he broke ground on a 144,000-square-foot expansion of Polaris’ Wyoming, Minnesota, R&D center, making room for 350 new employees to bolster its work force of 5,000, with eyes on 17 percent revenue growth over last year’s $2.7 billion.


Serial Entrepreneurs and Creative Innovators

1212_bb_c1_douglas-(1).jpgPaul Douglas 
Co-founder and president
Media Logic Group

You know Douglas as a TV and newspaper meteorologist. He’s also a serial entrepreneur who has converted weather data into several IT-centric companies that guide both individuals and businesses (such as wind energy firms) in their weather-based decision making. Douglas’ ecosystem also supplies custom products for broadcasters. One of his newest ventures is The Legal Storm, which works with law firms on topics such as storm damage.

1212_bb_c1_heim.jpgChris Heim
Co-founder and CEO
2nd Wave Software

Heim got his start as a successful, entrepreneurially minded business builder at HighJump Software, whose supply-chain management software efforts were highly regarded and well-funded. After selling HighJump to 3M, Heim went on to build Amcom Software, a cluster of emergency-notification platforms for colleges, hospitals, and other large facilities. Having sold Amcom, Heim and longtime collaborator Dan Mayleben launched 2nd Wave Software to find, run, and increase the value of software firms. Investors (and IT-industry talent) would do well to watch their next moves.

1212_bb_c1_krumrich.jpgPaul Krumrich 
Spye Group

Krumrich is particularly noteworthy among local multi-company entrepreneurs. Spyeglass, a digital display company he founded in 2002, became the first of his Spye Group companies. The group now also includes Spyeworks, which designs content and management software; and Sensory Environment Design, which designs integrated technology systems for businesses and residences. The Spye companies are housed in a refurbished paint factory in the Seward neighborhood, renamed the Greenway Resource for Integrated Design. Krumrich isn’t slowing down: He recently launched the Donkey Label brand of custom-tailored cycling apparel.

1212_bb_c1_pierach.jpgJörg Pierach 
Fast Horse, Tilia

Pierach saddled up his nimble North Loop marketing firm in 2001 after several years at a large blue-chip PR firm. Size-wise, Fast Horse is more pony than Percheron, but it has been growing fast of late. And it’s the model of the small, nimble communications shop that does just about everything—strategic planning, graphic design, media relations, advertising, social media, sponsorship activation, special-event planning, and more. Its clients include midsize Minnesota firms as well as bigger companies including Marvin Windows and Doors and Coca-Cola. In addition to his innovative shop, Pierach’s restaurant also is worth checking out—he co-founded the well-regarded Linden Hills boîte Tilia, anchored by rock star chef Steven Brown.

1212_bb_c1_smithmier.jpgDon Smithmier 
Managing partner and co-founder
Matter Worldwide

Smithmier has several pans boiling on the stove, and they’re all worth watching. His Minneapolis business combine includes Rumble Music, which creates original music for commercial and artistic applications; GoKart Labs, a “digital innovation lab” designed to build and launch new online-based businesses; and BringMeTheNews, the news aggregator and broadcaster founded by former TV news anchor Rick Kupchella. Smithmier’s newest venture is Sophia, developed to create a “peer-to-peer” platform for educators. What’s more, Smithmier’s also a member of the locally beloved country band Rocket Club.

1212_bb_c1_soran.jpgPhil Soran
Board member

Soran is famous locally in tech and investment circles for launching two highly successful data-storage firms: XIOtech, which was acquired by Seagate Technology in 2000 for $360 million; and Compellent, sold to Dell for $960 million in 2011. In March, Soran left Dell Compellent, stating that he would spend time on business, educational, and philanthropic interests. In July, Soran joined the board of Help/Systems, a highly regarded Eden Prairie tech firm. We can’t help but wonder, however, whether he’ll launch yet another storage star.


Most Intriguing Early-Stage Companies

1212_bb_c1_bignall.jpgAlan Bignall
President and CEO

If Minnesota becomes a big wheel in robotics, Bignall’s company will be one of those at the hub. ReconRobotics produces small robots that can enter dangerous places and sniff out people and objects that could harm police and defense personnel. Local police forces and the U.S. Army have ordered thousands of the company’s devices. Bignall also is one of the drivers behind the push to make robotics a growth industry in the state.

1212_bb_c1_narula.jpgVikas Narula

Narula’s Minneapolis-based startup is showing numerous local companies, both small and Fortune-ranked, how work really gets done in their organizations. Narula and Keyhubs survey a company’s employees to find out who has the knowledge and influence in a team or division. Very often, the go-to people don’t conform to the hierarchy; that quietly hardworking person tucked away in a cube may know more about your product than your sales manager. Keyhubs’ discoveries about how employees interconnect are influencing how companies hire leaders and develop talent.

1212_bb_c1_newrai.jpgJulie Gilbert Newrai 

Gilbert Newrai made her name at Best Buy, where she co-developed the increasingly influential concept (at least in creative-minded businesses) called Results-Oriented Work Environment—basically, it’s what you do, not when and where, that matters. The results of her latest work is this hot startup. PreciouStatus digitally connects people with loved ones in care facilities, which can include daycare as well as hospitals and eldercare, so that they can keep tabs.