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updated: 2/14/2017 9:56 AM

Coffee Break: Russell L. Romanelli, BKD LLP

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Q: Describe your company.

A: BKD is a national CPA and advisory firm that helps individuals and businesses realize their goals. Our professionals offer solutions for clients in all 50 states and internationally with a variety of services in accounting, audit and assurance, tax, risk management, technology, corporate finance, forensic and valuation services and wealth management.

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

A: We're always on the lookout for new talent. Our intern program attracts top talent from several local area universities. We're also looking to open an office in Chicago to complement our Oakbrook Terrace location. We recently added a firm that gave us a new market in Madison, Wisconsin, and we're always looking to acquire compatible, like-minded firms in our strategic growth markets.

Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?

A: As a lifelong Cub fan (who was able to attend Game 7 of the WS with my son), it would have to be BKD at Wrigley Field. We also have a lot of Cardinal fans in our organization and that would probably be upsetting to them. So it's perfect.

Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?

A: Brand recognition in the Chicagoland market. We have more than 90 years of unmatched client service behind our people, but we need to differentiate ourselves from other firms. We are doing all we can to inform our clients and prospects of the quality and service capability of BKD. We're in the process of rebranding and are excited to unveil a new look and feel that personifies our role as trusted advisers.

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

A: Big data and cybersecurity. Both are hot-button topics in this industry. Cybersecurity is an issue facing many organizations across industries, so much so that last fall BKD hired Director Jan Hertzberg, who brings more than 30 years of experience providing cybersecurity services.

Q: If you were not doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?

A: I always wanted to have my own Italian deli. Good thing that didn't happen or I'd be even larger than I am now.

Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie CEO, what would it be?

A: You are only as good as the people that surround you. Do your best to let them know how valuable they are to your mission.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: Unmatched client service. We even wrote a book about our five client service standards: Integrity First, True Expertise, Professional Demeanor, Responsive Reliability and Principled Innovation. All BKD employees receive it when they join the firm and are encouraged to read it and live by it.

We also share the book with our clients and prospects so they understand our culture and what motivates us.

Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?

A: My dad has always been a great role model for me in dealing with people. He just knows how to talk to them, how to be reasonable and how to be a friend.

In business, there is no greater fundamental than simply being able to get the most out of your relationships with people.

Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?

A: BKD has a foundation. Our employees have the option to directly donate to our foundation, and each office is responsible for distributing donations to local 501(c)(3) organizations. To date, the BKD Foundation has contributed more than $11.5 million to the communities in which we live and work.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I am an avid mountain climber and am looking to conquer Mt. Kilimanjaro next. No. Seriously, I just play golf.

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

A: "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America."

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Typically, if I have disappointed someone I will lie awake at night trying to figure out how I can rectify the issue. This could be with family, friend, employee or client.

Q: What was your first paying job?

A: I worked in the meat department at Foodtown in Melrose Park. I was a pseudo apprentice butcher.

Q: What is one funny thing that has happened to you in your career?

A: I'm an accountant. Nothing funny happens ... ever.

Q: Two people to follow on Twitter and why.

A: Vala Afshar (@valaafshar) -- very interesting technology trends and Jim Cramer (@JimCramer) for business trends.

-- Kim Mikus