Photos by Hillary Ehlen
We like to think of the Fargo business community as a giant puzzle and the people who comprise it as the different but equally essential pieces. Take one person, one company, or one industry away, and the picture becomes incomplete. Faces of Fargo Business is our chance to piece that puzzle together each month and celebrate the countless people who make this such a great place to work.
Michelle Schumacher, CPA
Group Finance Manager, Microsoft
What she did…
Prior to this role, she was part of the Corporate Accounting team responsible for early adopting the new revenue standard (ASC 606) for Microsoft’s revenue, which is over $110 billion. Before joining Microsoft in 2011, her career was spent in public accounting, both at Eide Bailly in Fargo and PricewaterhouseCoopers in Minneapolis.
Who she is…
Group Finance Manager for Microsoft’s Cloud + Artificial Intelligence Platform and Artificial Intelligence Research groups.
Organizations she’s involved with…
- Board of Directorsfor the North Dakota CPA Society and the YWCA
- Previous served on the Board for organizations such as the Fargo Moorhead CPA Society, University of North Dakota Department of Accountancy Advisory Board and Junior Achievement
- Member of the Finance Committees for the United Way and YWCA
What she does…
Her team and her are responsible for complex technical accounting and operations for Microsoft’s cloud and AI offerings, along with Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure.
A typical day in her life…
Meetings, meetings, meetings! Working for a company the size of Microsoft, I get the opportunity to collaborate with many amazing people across the globe. However, with that comes a lot of meetings! We are so lucky to have technology that allows us to be geographically diverse but connect as if we are sitting next to each other.
The worst piece of advice she’s ever received…
I’m always hearing that I don’t know how to relax. I have started to realize that my vision of relaxing is just very different than most people. Let’s go with it being a bit more “active.”
A local/state resource she has utilized recently…
We have so many wonderful leadership programs in the area (ex. United Way’s 35 Under 35, Chamber Leadership Program, etc.) that have provided Microsoft employees with opportunities to learn new skills and network across the community that they wouldn’t otherwise have. These resources can prove very valuable as part of a career journey.
Master Barber and Owner, Everett’s Barbershop
Ehlen is a third generation barber with more than a decade of experience. Her husband Alex and her opened Everett’s in June 2012. Along with her sister, Maureen Robinson, and their friend Trevor Thompson, they run their shop in Downtown Fargo.
Her TED Talk would be on…
Who’s Ted? Do you think he needs a haircut?
How her job differs from the perceptions…
Barbering is much more complex than people think. You have to take each individual’s hair type into consideration when deciding any certain haircut. Managing someone’s expectations when it comes to selecting a cut can sometimes be a challenge. Some people think being a Barber is just some side job that one is doing for fun or extra cash. In reality, it’s an amazing career that I highly suggest anyone look into if they think they may be interested. North Dakota, in general, needs more barbers all over the state.
She’d like to thank…
I’d like to thank my sister, Maureen. Without her by my side, being as successful as the shop is today would have taken me a lot longer.
A leader she’s watching…
Joel Brehmer. Badass barber and current President of the North Dakota Barber Board of Examiners.
Our North Dakota State Barber’s Association has been a crucial resource for our business. I encourage fellow business owners to join a similar organization within their own industry.
Co-Founder, Hurd ProNetwork
Co-Founder, Cerulean Properties
First and foremost, I’m a lucky husband and father of two girls. My faith is what grounds me and helps me through the ups and downs that life throws at me. I really gravitate to just about anything beyond the norm. If it’s a hiking expedition, I want it to be extreme, miserable and challenging. I’ve found those to be my favorite past times and have learned from each of those experiences. I try to find that in everything, at least in positive creative terms, although I may come to terms that it isn’t necessary either.
Currently, I am working with my church (Hope Lutheran) and a Mens ministry, spearheading a Spiritual Leadership Expedition in Voyageurs National Park this fall. I’ve been fortunate to have the support of my church and mentors on board helping make this possible. And, of course, we will push the limits physically, spiritually and mentally. I love that we can relate this to business as well as in faith.
With Finnu, I focus on long-term goals as well as design furniture/custom builds, etc. We could stop woodworking tomorrow and it wouldn’t matter. It isn’t what we do that is important, it’s how we do it that sets us apart. And with Finnu, there are no limitations; the brand will always continue. Currently, we’re building out a new website and launching a new Finnu clothing line that is separate from the Finnu custom furniture and builds. This is going to be an exciting time for us as we develop and launch sometime this winter-spring.
We’re always trying to find ways to give back to our favorite non-profit organizations Unseen and The Village Family Service Center. We believe in what they’re doing and love the team dynamic.
Hurd ProNetwork was co-founded by myself and business partner Mike Brevik in 2018. We are a different breed of the so-called networking business. Currently, my role has been focusing on the question, “What makes us different?” And the reason for that question, is that everyone says, “We’re different!” So, when you really dive into that question and you break down all the similarities from one group to another, you could argue that no-one networking group is really different. Not saying bad by any stretch of the means, but there are so many similarities that it wasn’t making sense to us anymore, especially if we were going to accelerate our business relationship development on a higher level.
So, you start defining what networking looks like in the market… If you ask a seasoned CEO what networking means to them and, if you ask someone in sales who focuses on the next sale from week to week… You’re going to get an entirely different answer. So, we realized there was a gap that needed to be filled.
We believe there is just so much more to business relationship development than just “giving to gain.” If we’re only focused on getting something out of the giving, then we’ve lost focus entirely. If I shovel my elderly neighbor’s driveway, should I expect her to pay me back? Of course not. Although, this is a mindset that is hard to break in networking, but once you understand we’re all here to help, and we have value to give, then it becomes crystal clear.
With the abundance of entrepreneurs in this market, we needed to take a leap forward. So, in the next two months we’ll be fitting up a space in the Downtown Fargo Meadowlark Building. We expect waves of new business and look forward to making an impact in our business community. I’d encourage all business executives of any kids to check us out and learn how they can get more involved in Hurd. We’re looking for motivated, talented business solutions-minded people that want to take their business and community impact to a new level.
Cerulean Properties was co-founded by my brother-in-law David Newman, myself and my father-in-law Randy Newman. My day to day is really the management side and thinking future plans. David and I really share duties in this and Randy does a great job advising us in planning. We know we want to grow, we’re not sure if that means more residential, apartments or commercial at this point. So, we’re meeting quarterly to figure out what may be the best plan moving forward for all of us and our tight schedules.
A leader he respects
Honestly, I’m always paying attention to what my father-in-law (Randy Newman) is doing. I ask a ton of questions and ask for advice all the time. When we get together, more often than not we’re talking about business. He’s a big planner, probably the best I’ve ever seen in my life. That takes years of practice and learning to be at that level. So, naturally I’m interested in how he does it all and how it relates to my business practices and how to move forward.
- “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey
- “12 Rules For Life” by Jordan B. Peterson
- Podcast: How I Built This with Chip Wilson – Founder of Lululemon