BBA 2007 (Accounting)
BS 2007 (Political Science)
Kevin Hansen helps keep the engines of democracy running.
As a program analyst in the office of Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, it's his job to make sure the District is a place where government officials, public policy chiefs and world diplomats can do their work. Hansen is responsible for overseeing agencies whose budgets total more than $500 million of the District's annual $9 billion budget on behalf of the city administrator.
It's a position where Hansen moves in a world of Harvard and Columbia, Georgetown and Wharton. He shows that Tippie matches up well with all of them.
"My experience at Tippie, especially in the Hawkinson Institute of Business Finance, taught me a good set of skills that I knew would serve me well in any situation," he said. "I know how marketable those skills are."
A native of Dubuque, there wasn't much question that Hansen would come to The University of Iowa. He was a lifelong Hawkeye fan, and his older brother was an alumnus. The only question was, what would he study?
"I tried not to pigeon hole myself in just one area because I didn't want to miss any opportunities," he said. "This was a chance to try something new. I could have majored in ten different subjects."
He finally settled on a political science and accounting double major, in part because they offered complementary skills and because they left his career options wide open.
Then he got busy. He likes to note that college students can study, have fun or sleep, and he chose the first two. He was a president's list student and elected senator on the UI Student Government. He worked as a researcher in the Department of Political Science and was recruited to the Hawkinson Institute.
"I took advantage of as many of these opportunities as I could because I knew I would never get these kinds of leadership experiences at such an early point in my career and with such a low level of risk," he said. "I was getting valuable experience, and it was in a very low pressure situation."
Over time, a career managing money began to take shape. His accounting classes demonstrated he had a way with numbers. He managed the UISG's budget as CFO. His Hawkinson experience showed how markets work, and how to market himself.
After graduating with honors in 2007, he worked for two years at Bain & Company, a consulting firm, in Los Angeles. It was a great first job out of college, he said, and he got the chance to apply the skills that he'd learned at Tippie to solve key problems at Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, private equity funds and government defense contractors. Drawing on his experiences in the consulting world, Kevin realized that his real interest was in solving the same sorts of problems, but for government. So, after he completed a two-year program at Bain, he went on an extended backpacking trip through South America, soaking up the cultures, honing his Spanish, and thinking about his future.
By the time he returned home, he decided a career in public service and public policy is what he wanted, so that he could make peoples' lives better. It seemed obvious, then, that Washington, D.C. would be his next stop.
"If you want to build a career in public policy leadership, this is the place you want to be," he said. "Washington is a great place to live because it's a young city filled with people who are interested in policy and public service."
He started working for the District government in January 2010, at age 25, surrounded by financial management veterans who graduated from some of the most prestigious universities in the country. He hasn't been intimidated, though, because his UI experience has held him in good stead.
His management portfolio includes some of the most basic services of local government—things like fire hydrants, water and sewer, and affordable housing developments.
"I like working in local government because it so closely affects peoples' lives and it makes an identifiable, tangible impact," he said. "If I do my job well, then agencies have the resources they need to make sure that the fire hydrants are getting repaired, the drinking water is clean, and the residents are getting timely, cost-efficient services from their government. If I screw up, then residents are going to end up on the mayor's helpline calling me out."