Eric and Stephanie Dinger were included in the Lincoln Journal Star’s inaugural Lincoln's 20 Under 40 section
, which recognizes 20 of the top business leaders in Lincoln under 40 years old. The Dinger’s, who both graduated from the UNL College of Business Administration, have spent the past decade building successful businesses, serving the community and raising a family.
Eric graduated from CBA with a degree in marketing after growing up in the towns of Redfield, S.D., and Luverne, Minn. He immediately went into business for himself by creating Thought District – a local marketing firm aimed at creating something unique in the Lincoln area.
“CBA gave me the language I use every day in business,” Eric said. “The accounting requirements are so key to students who want to start a business someday.”
As CEO of Thought District, Eric is also responsible for setting the vision for the company and developing the culture through constant discussion of the mission, values and brand promise. Many of the things he learned in the marketing classes at CBA have stayed with him through the years.
“Dr. Ravi Sohi, Dr. Jim Gentry, Dr. Dwayne Ball and Rob Simon are professors from whom I remember learning a lot. I especially liked Dr. Ball's class because he treated marketing like a science and was very demanding of his students,” Eric said.
Although the growth of Thought District has slowed down a bit from 100%+ growth annually early on to around 40% in recent years, it still represents the high achievement standards Eric carried with him from college.
“Students should be proud of the education they receive at CBA,” Eric said. “The only ceiling you have with that degree is one you build yourself.”
Eric and Stephanie Dinger
Stephanie, who is from Fairbury, Neb. and graduated with a degree in business administration, has worked at Union Bank & Trust for the past nine years. She is currently an assistant vice president, branch manager. Ironically, Eric first met Stephanie doing business rather than in college.
“I met Stephanie at Union Bank, where she helped open my first business accounts. She was referred to me by another banker at Union. I waited until I received the biggest check we'd ever earned in business, $12,000, to go open my account with her. I thought that was a lot of money but it turns out she didn't even notice the amount.”
Stephanie has played an integral role in helping her husband balance the time constraints of running a business and raising a family. Her ability to manage the family life is also apparent in her business career.
“I graduated with a management minor which relates specifically to my role as a manager at Union Bank,” Stephanie said. “I learned different management styles and approaches. I was put out of my comfort zone by delivering speeches and presentations which helped me get over my stage fright for when I have to present in my career. I learned how to multi-task and work well in group settings because I was consistently working on group projects. I felt as equipped as I possibly could have moving from school life to career life.”
Stephanie is responsible for leading the retail and lending aspects of five Lincoln bank branches, that include 50 employees. It parallels much of what she learned at CBA.
“I enjoyed my business administration degree because I got a little bit of everything: accounting, marketing, management, economics, and business law which all relate in some way to my career at Union Bank.”
She is ultimately responsible for maintaining a successful work environment where customers feel valued and employees are satisfied with their jobs. She has come a long way from where she began as a bank teller and has been motivated from the beginning to work as hard at her career as she did in her academics.
Stephanie and Eric also accomplished another goal unique to their families.
"Eric and I were among the first in both of our families to graduate from college and it was truly an honor to have obtained our degree from such a great University," Stephanie said.
Both Eric and Stephanie now give back to the community through helping others. Stephanie is active in the Heartland Big Brother Big Sister program, the United Way and a Fund Distribution board. Eric is passionate about giving back to his church and helping people who are struggling in the community through service work. He is active on several boards and fundraising committees.
The Dinger’s have two daughters, Madilyn, 11, and Reagan, who recently turned one.
Other UNL College of Business Administration grads on the list included James Anderson, partner/CEO with BKD, who graduated with an accounting degree in 1997, and T.J. Casady, first vice president of Union Bank & Trust, who graduated with a management degree in 1999.