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Updike stands out as firm’s go-to guy

Updike stands out as firm’s go-to guy

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Shawn Updike - Stafford Rosenbaum (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)
Shawn Updike – Stafford Rosenbaum (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Personality comes up a lot, both when Shawn Updike describes his job and when his boss describes him.

The accounting specialist for Stafford Rosenbaum, Madison, handles various duties, from accounts payable to collections. He’s done that kind of work off and on since he graduated from high school, so he’s comfortable with it.

But it wasn’t until joining Stafford Rosenbaum in 2015 that he saw the differences that exist between the corporate-accounting world and law firms. That’s where personalities come into play, he said, because accounts receivable and collections processes vary with clients, lawyers and the context of cases. In a corporate setting, Updike said, there’s just a standard process.

“Each attorney has a different personality,” he said. “I had to learn how to get the most out of the relationships.”

That’s crucial at the law firm, he said, because he’s often stepping in and trying to get money from a client. And with more than 10 practice areas at Stafford Rosenbaum, he said, his duties can get complicated.

“You have to look at it from a person’s perspective,” Updike said, “as opposed to a business perspective.”

That makes his current work far different from what he had done in a corporate setting at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, where he worked in accounting for seven years, he said. And it’s miles away from the work he had done as an office manager for the Magic Kingdom restaurant operation at Disney World in Florida.

Still, those jobs, even when he worked in customer relations at Disney World, helped prepare him for legal accounting. It was those experiences and his personality that struck Julie Yaeger, the firm’s director of finance, when she interviewed him for his current position, she said.

She said he’s calm and comfortable around technology and has a personality that lets him get along with everyone.

“We laughed during the interview,” Yaeger said. “You could tell he had a real good demeanor.”

It’s that attitude, she said, that has made him a go-to guy. For instance, when the firm needed someone to take over its United Way campaign, he stepped up.

“He did a wonderful job,” Yaeger said. “In the last two years, we’ve raised more money than we ever have before.”

Updike said he enjoyed working on the campaign and developing ways for people to get more involved. And whether it’s raising money for United Way or collecting money from clients, Updike said he feels at ease in his position, knowing what needs to be done and knowing he does it well.

“I think they appreciate me,” he said. “I feel valued here.”

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