Thursday, August 23, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments - David Kelnhofer and Clif Kelly

David Kelnhofer ‘09 loved volleyball and knew he wanted to get into finance – and it was a connection with alumnus Clif Kelly ’78 during a trip to California for a game that ultimately paved the path for this men’s volleyball player to begin a career in Private Wealth Management.

“Coach Dan Friend told me about an alum who lives in California and followed the Lewis men’s volleyball, who’d be coming to the game. Clif Kelly was a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to network with an alum who has experience in the field. After the game, I asked Dan to point him out to me for a conversation. A few months later, Clif assisted me in securing an internship at Merrill Lynch in Milwaukee, where I was living. I loved it, and it solidified for me exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated. Clif and I have continued to stay in touch, and I am so grateful for his guidance in my early career.”

A true mission moment of an alumnus positively changing the life of Lewis students!

David was being heavily recruited during high school for men’s volleyball. An All-American, he had a choice of colleges to attend – but it wasn’t ultimately just volleyball that played into his decision to come to Lewis.

“Lewis had a phenomenal men’s volleyball program and was close to Chicago. I wanted to stay close to home, and I wanted a school that wasn’t huge. It really came down to Loyola, Lewis, and Ohio State. I really focused on where I could do well academically, and I had a good connection with Dan and liked the College of Business. It felt more at home than being in downtown Chicago,” explains David.

David earned his undergraduate degree from Lewis, and continued on for his M.B.A. During that time, he lived in Willowbrook and worked part-time for a credit union, then graduated, moved to Milwaukee, and started working at Robert W. Baird.

“It’s an investment firm like Wells Fargo, but slightly smaller. We are working to expand. It’s a great company, headquartered in Milwaukee. I work in private wealth management and financial advising. Basically, helping everyday people plan for retirement. I love talking with clients, hearing how they built their wealth. It’s like putting together a puzzle – you’re taking all these little puzzle pieces and fitting them together to help your client see the bigger picture.”

Learning from the knowledge Clif imparted on him, David really dove into the industry head first and encourages future graduates to do the same.

“Find someone to network within the industry you’re looking at. I remember when I was trying to find a job, the market wasn’t favorable. I was willing to empty garbage cans just to get my foot in the door. Last year, my intern was offered many jobs and was able to consider this may be the path for his future career. I was glad that I could be a mentor toward his career goals. It’s hard to know what you want to do at that age. I was lucky that my parents guided me to that direction, and I was lucky to find someone like Cliff to network with.”

Alumni have a great deal to offer students, other alumni, and others in the workplace. From speaking on experience to opening career doors, networking can be a powerful tool. #LewisUAlumniWhoCare