Alumni Spotlight: David Heinke

David Heinke with Herbie Husker

calendar icon October 28, 2019 - 11:44am

David Heinke, 1977/1978 graduate, Director of Business Development at Grant Thornton

Majors: BA - English, French Minor MA - Secondary Education

What kind of work does your occupation involve?
I am Director Business Development for the global advisory, tax and accounting firm of Grant Thornton. My job requires that I focus on 3 areas: 1) I create awareness in the marketplace about Grant Thornton, our services and our brand 2) I generate leads, i.e. sales opportunities for professionals and 3) I assist our professionals in transforming those leads and opportunities into new clients and revenue. I require research, interaction with C Level executives, travel, and high-level cognitive thought. I love my job.


What sparked your interest in your majors?
I have always loved literature and critical discussion of literature. That sparked my interest in studying English. As is always the case, it was the influence and shadow of three professors who took an interest in me that really sparked my interest in becoming a scholar while I was a student at UNL. Lucy Buntain, Robert E. Lee Hough, and Paul Olson provided me with assistance and counsel and got me excited about the world of language and literature.


What is the value of your areas of study?
The value of my areas of study at Nebraska can be summed up in a simple Henry James quote from the Art of Fiction. My study taught me to try and be "one of those people on whom nothing is lost."


How did you get to where you are today?
My path was a crooked road. Look at my LinkedIn profile. I was a teacher, a commodity trader, a bank derivatives trader, a radio talk show host, and a business development professional at my current job where I have been for 23 years. There is a common thread. I did my Senior Honor Thesis and Master Thesis on Language Philosophy and conducting literary discussion in the classroom. I learned that I could transfer those skills and concepts that worked when having discussions with students into conducting a meaningful discussion with prospects, clients, and business executives. I learned that I could get C Level Executives to talk about their businesses, their challenges, and opportunities. In doing so, I was able to take the next step and after learning about my clients and having gained their trust - sell them my firms' services. My post-graduate class has been the semantics of sales.


Were there any other experiences from your time at UNL that helped you get to where you are now?
I was very active working for the Intramural Sports Department while I was at UNL. I learned to be a basketball and football referee. I spent time officiating high school games in Chicago when I was younger. I no longer officiate games but those experiences helped me build my network in Chicago in the pre-internet age.