Growing up in a small town in Wisconsin, Rachael Bertrandt decided early that engineering would be interesting as a career because she was good at math. But upon auditing a class in college, she found it extremely overwhelming because of the excessive number of people—which was almost more than her entire town’s population.
“I had a natural aptitude for accounting, and my business teacher in high school taught to my level and brought me extra textbooks, so I decided to then pursue a business degree,” she recounts. “My parents owned many businesses, so I knew about small business accounting, which led to where I am now.”
Today, Bertrandt serves as global corporate controller and principal accounting officer for Insight Enterprises Inc., a Fortune 500 global provider of digital innovation, cloud and data center transformation, connected workforce, and supply chain optimization solutions and services—the global integrator of Insight Intelligent Technology Solutions for organizations of all sizes.
Her journey to the Phoenix-based company began in 1997 with a stint at Ernst & Young, where she worked in auditing. She moved on to a controller role at Sage Software for five years, followed by two years as controller at MedAire and ten years at Amkor Technology.
“Amkor was a large global semiconductor company, and I had a global controller role,” Bertrandt explains. “In 2016, that led me to Insight.” As Insight’s principal accounting officer, she is responsible for global financial reporting, accounting policy, and the company’s SEC filings. She also provides support to the CFO and senior management in their communication with investors and analysts following the company.
“My favorite part is the global aspect. That was certainly a large focus for me at my last company,” Bertrandt shares. “Insight is now continuing growth from a global aspect, and I think my experience and global leadership from other top technology companies is really valuable and helpful in my role here.”
On the global front, she notes, individual cultures around the world and how those cultures impact business is intriguing to her.
“Amkor focused on extreme concentration throughout Asia, but at Insight it’s a little more diverse,” Bertrandt says. “It’s a bit of a different global scope. I had to go through that learning curve again at Insight as far as making sure the team is sensitive to global cultures and open to learning about them, which is how you successfully lead people across the globe.”
Bertrandt travels a fair amount, not only throughout the US and Canada but also to Europe, Australia, and the Asia-Pacific region.
“I did not travel when I was younger, and I had not been outside of the US until working for Sage Software in the late nineties and going to its sales office in the UK,” Bertrandt says. “After having traveled throughout ten years in Asia, it really doesn’t quite compare from an international perspective.”
“Insight is now continuing growth from a global aspect, and I think my experience and global leadership from other top technology companies is really valuable and helpful in my role here.”
The biggest challenge with working in different cultures, she notes, is that people assume the way they do business is how the rest of the world conducts business. She also finds that sometimes people who don’t have global experience aren’t always sensitive to the cultural impact that occurs.
“At Insight, our company culture is extremely important to every one of us as a part of what we do as an organization, which makes for a common language in our global organization,” Bertrandt says. “We can then build from there.”
From a finance perspective, she helps advance Insight as a global organization and uses the company’s values to work through geographical differences. One of the areas of focus over the past two years is clear, concise two-way conversation.
“A lot of my team from the corporate perspective are also the ones that lead that communication, making sure we’re not recreating the wheel every time a business unit has a deal or transaction come up, particularly in Europe and Asia-Pacific,” Bertrandt notes. “Chances are that we already encountered that in North America, so making sure that we are cross-communicating and having opportunities to do that face-to-face as well is important.”
That means bringing leaders from different backgrounds and geographies together and working under the same philosophy—people first and culturally understanding how everyone communicates.
Insight has seen tremendous organic growth in the past five to seven years, and its CEO, Kenneth Lamneck, invests heavily in developing future organizational leaders; he views it as one of his primary jobs. Bertrandt enjoys the fast pace of the job and the drive to always do more.
“When you’re dealing with different time zones and working around the globe, you really have to react quickly. You’re in so many different cultural and economic environments that if information isn’t readily available for decision makers, it can be problematic,” she says. “Our service to our company means not only clearly communicating with one another on a global basis but also being articulate about how we deliver our messages to our internal customers and reporting a higher standard of work ethic in a quicker amount of time.”