December 13 , 2021




Dana leaned on its resilience to persist during pandemic


In the 30 years that Mark Mirsberger has been working at Waukesha, Wis.-based Dana Investment Advisors Inc., the markets and the world have seen a lot of ups and downs — the most recent being the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The impact of the pandemic has been felt nationwide and Mr. Mirsberger, CEO, credits Dana’s close-knit culture, internal resiliency and flexibility with being able to manage pandemic uncertainty.

That culture also has kept Dana on the list of Pensions & Investments’ Best Places to Work in Money Management for 10 years. In 2021, the firm ranked No. 1 among small employers, with 46 U.S. employees. It had $7.4 billion in assets under management as of June 30.

“We saw in some of our investment research early on that COVID could have a really significant impact on markets” before the pandemic forced nationwide shutdowns, Mr. Mirsberger said. 

As cases rose, it began thinking about the implications for portfolios and the staff.

“We took steps to move to remote work and use enhanced safety protocols in the office. That obviously turned out to be the right call,” he said.

FOCUSED ON FEEDBACK: Mark Mirsberger said it was important to listen to what employees needed after nationwide shutdowns and the move to remote work.

Dana already had a flexible work policy in place so most employees had the technology to work from home as needed. Each year, Dana sends the staff a gift, and had already sent iPads to everyone on the team. That turned out to be especially helpful during the pandemic because everyone had portable technology at their homes. More recently, Dana also sent out the board game Blank Slate, a word association game, for team members to play with their families, as a morale booster.

The company also provided staffwide training on technologies like Zoom to support virtual meetings. That flexibility has remained throughout the pandemic, eventually evolving into a more formalized hybrid work policy. 

“We’ve really been focused on employee feedback throughout this thing,” Mr. Mirsberger said. “I have always had an open-door policy, and our teams are able to work with each other and stay flexible. I don’t think we ever expected to have to pivot as hard as we did, but our ability as a staff to communicate and our culture really supported us as we adapted to the pandemic.”

Employee responses to the Best Places survey noted that Dana pays 100% of the premiums for employees and dependents medical, dental and vision insurance, an important benefit to have before and during the pandemic. Employees also said that they feel empowered to communicate their needs and appreciate the flexibility around working from home. 

One employee said: “The management with their proactive actions inspired team members to be the best versions of themselves, which was reflected in the performance across the strategies as well as timely and quality client service. In addition, senior management reached out multiple times to check on the well-being of each employee and their families.”

Now, as businesses are beginning to reopen and normalize, Dana is revisiting some of its other team-building activities, such as philanthropy. The company is creating a foundation that will focus on investing in the local community, and plans to make education a pillar of that effort.  

According to Mr. Mirsberger, the foundation work is an extension of philanthropic activity employees were already doing as well as the values-aligned strategies present in Dana’s environmental, social and governance funds. “Giving back is really core to who we are as a company,” he said. “It’s a key part of how we invest, and we also encourage everyone who works here to find a way to contribute to the community. The foundation will help us continue to build on those beliefs.”

Reprinted with permission from Pensions & Investments. © 2021 Crain Communications Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. Click here to read more about Pensions & Investments 2021 Best Places to Work in Money Management.