Early in his career, Bjorn Berg realized that what he most cares about is working in a field in which he can teach, train and, above all, help people. 

Seeing the example that his father, Ron Berg, set as an educator and school administrator during his 38-year career, Berg earned a degree in political science and secondary education and started out teaching social studies at a Cedar Rapids high school. 

“(My father) was also a big proponent of leadership and development – seeing the good in everyone who came into his classroom – and that there are skills in every person,” Berg said. 

Not long after Berg began teaching, a colleague convinced him that he had the leadership skills to succeed in banking. That led him to Fargo, N.D., where he helped turn a struggling branch into an award-winning team in loan production and credit card accounts.  

During the recession, he temporarily moved into sales training roles outside banking around the country, but returned to Des Moines in 2012 to serve as a branch manager at U.S. Bank’s downtown office.

“I think the thing I enjoy the most is the opportunity to educate our customers about products that can benefit them, and to train our employees in skills they need,” he said. 

In a similar fashion, Berg said he’s “really become addicted to volunteering,” particularly in the past year. Helping just one person in an hour and a half is sometimes all it takes to make a difference, as one experience proved. 

Working with an adult literacy student, Berg watched a person who had been bouncing from job to job begin to gain some confidence. 

“As we’ve met week-to-week, it’s been so tremendous to see that spark come back to try,” Berg said. “He would start wearing a tie and jacket when we met because he wanted to match me. Just something as simple as a change in his wardrobe spawned conversations about finances, wanting to buy a house someday. … To see the confidence that came from having a paycheck come in, it was just exciting to see that change in one person. That’s the part that you get addicted to, and that is exciting.” 

Reasons he’s a Forty:

• He created and implemented a districtwide customer service and sales training program that increased his bank’s customer service scores significantly.  

• He’s served on the board of Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa and the Education Committee of the Des Moines branch of the NAACP. 

• He’s a counselor at a statewide leadership camp for middle school students each year, 

• He created a financial literacy and money education program for minority and low-income students that will be launched this spring. 

• He serves as a mentor and four people he has mentored have advanced to higher positions in the past two years.

Return to Forty Under 40