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Student Spotlights

Dean V. High ’82

Partner, Financial Consultant, Vanden Boom, Verstegen, High Wealth Management LLC
MBA–Professional Alumnus

Career impact
“Earning an MBA served to add credibility to my ability to perform the duties of being a financial consultant as well as office manager of the various companies that I worked for, and it served to open doors to career advancement that probably would not have been accessible without an advanced degree. It also gave added credibility to me among my high net worth clients.

“In the late 1970s when I began taking courses at UWO during nights and weekends, since I was also working, the common thinking was that you needed an MBA to ascend within your chosen business career. At that time, the Wall Street Journal had frequent articles about the importance of obtaining an MBA in order to excel in your chosen business path. Without an MBA the implication was that you could very well be passed over by someone who did have an MBA.

“Therefore, part of my motivation to obtain my MBA was because I felt I the need to be competitive and not be passed over simply for lacking a degree.

“Since I was living and working in the greater Fox Cities area, obtaining my MBA degree at UW Oshkosh made a lot of sense. Plus I had attained my BBA degree at Oshkosh, so I had all the prerequisites and was able to easily enter into the MBA program.

“Additionally, I found undergraduate school to be more of a necessary exercise partially because of my young age and lack of exposure to the real business world. I read the textbooks and completed my BBA degree, but it wasn’t until working on my MBA that I could start applying the principals of what I was being taught to my 8-to-5 job. In short, I found the MBA program to be much more interesting and applicable to real-life situations than I did my undergraduate degree.”

Career achievement
“My most noteworthy achievement was being allowed the opportunity to be a trusted financial adviser to my hundreds of high net worth clients over the past 38 years through all sorts of volatile market conditions, and helping them attain, grow and keep their financial wealth. I consider most of my long-term clients to be more family than merely clients and I have come to know not only their personal balance sheets, but more importantly, them as individuals, as well as their children and now their grandchildren. This has been very meaningful and gratifying to me.” 

Fun or interesting fact
“Because I had the opportunity to work with high net worth individuals, I was exposed to various philanthropy efforts in the community and was able to give back a little bit. Having a finance degree and an MBA, I was given opportunities to serve on board positions for the United Way, Rotary, First United Methodist Church and ThedaCare.

“My most recent positions centered on endowments, and I was instrumental in developing and serving on the endowment committees for Rotary, church and ThedaCare.

“Three years ago ThedaCare built a new $45-million Regional Cancer Center in Appleton and I served as campaign co-chair along with Mike Waite of the Menasha Corporation, and we were able to raise over $7 million for that much-needed facility to enhance cancer care in the Fox Cities and surrounding communities. I was also afforded the opportunity to be a patient advocate during the design and construction of the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center. I am still on the Board of Trustees of the ThedaCare Family of Foundations (Past President), the Appleton Regional Medical Center Foundation [Past President], and currently serve as adviser to the Patricia Ann High Cancer Endowment Fund. I also was a member of the ThedaCare Finance Committee, and I still currently serve on the ThedaCare Finance Sub-Committee.”

Favorite professor
“One of my favorite professors was Larry Lang. He was energetic, a good instructor and passionate about the capital markets classes he taught. He was also approachable and had a good sense of humor. I learned a lot from Lang and recently had the good fortune of running into him at the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center this past year, where we had a chance to catch up a bit on the last 40 years.

“James Grunloh, economics, was another favorite of mine as well as Bruce Baker, management.”

Professional advice
“I have several pieces of professional advice that I have drawn upon over my career:

‘Learn to do well.’ Ralph E. High [my grandfather]

‘Our clients will forgive errors of judgement, but never errors of intent,’ Robert W. Baird

‘You can never wear too dark of plaid,’ Peter Banzhaf

‘Never go into a dark room alone.’ Coach Mike Krzyzewski

‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles,’ Sun Tzu”