We had the good fortune of connecting with Roni Burgener and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Roni, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Three years ago I had just graduated from CU with a Chemical & Biological Engineering degree and no idea what to do with it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life so I was living at home and working as a server in a restaurant in downtown Boulder. I thought that you had to be so sure of your career path to be worthy of the coveted first Big Girl Job out of school so I wasn’t even trying. Until I met Wendy Bohling through a mutual friend at a coffee shop. Wendy mentored me and got me to start looking at what I liked about my degree instead of all the things I hated (and there were plenty). She eventually coaxed out of me an admission that I don’t think I had even made to myself which is that I LOVED excel spreadsheets… She looked at me and said in her thick Virginia accent “Bless your heart. Someone has to like them though I suppose”. She convinced me to start applying for Financial Analyst and Business Analyst jobs. Something which I was undoubtedly unqualified for and would have never considered. I ended up landing a job as a Financial Analyst in a world that I still love to this day, Tech. However, that job was not the beautiful sophisticated corporate job that we see women get in the movies. Thank god it wasn’t though otherwise Wendy and I may have parted ways. Over the next three years Wendy’s advice would help get me through blatant discrimination, infuriating meetings with HR, three job transitions, bad bosses, and a myriad of other issues that come with being a working woman. Amidst my gratitude for Wendy’s guidance came a realization. Not every young working woman is lucky enough to meet a mentor like Wendy randomly at a coffee shop. That is when I approached Wendy with the idea to start a podcast for the working woman. I wanted as many women as possible to feel the support that I did during all the challenges I faced in the workplace. Since then we have produced over 50 of Big Girl Money the podcast and recorded live podcasts for different organizations and companies! We break down career advice with a healthy dose of humor and intergenerational wisdom. As Wendy says, we spend way too much time at work not to have fun.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Wendy’s ongoing joke on Big Girl Money is that my career has gone by in dog years because in the three years I have been working I have faced challenges it takes women 10 to 20 years to see. I think that is a touch dramatic but I agree that as soon as I wanted to start a podcast for women in the workplace the universe made sure I would have enough to talk about. There are so many lessons I’ve learned along the way, but one of my favorites is the power of vulnerability. Being vulnerable with family and friends got me the help I needed when I experienced anxiety for the first time while facing a toxic work environment. Being vulnerable with family and friends is what saved my confidence when I was unexpectedly fired from a job I was thriving in. Being vulnerable with trusted colleagues and bosses is how I’ve developed a wonderful professional network. My next favorite lesson is how important it is to have a sense of humor. I remember calling Wendy when the CTO at a former job screamed at everyone in a meeting (not an uncommon occurrence) and then almost ran me over speeding out of the parking garage in his red sports car (sorry I don’t know cars otherwise I would provide more details but I know that thing wasn’t cheap). I was livid and by the end of my conversation with her I ended up laughing at the absurdity of the entire day. I came up with a game plan for how I was going to handle my current situation and that was that. Why would I let them ruin my evening? Vulnerability and a sense of humor have helped me throughout my career but they are also two things that make my podcast, Big Girl Money, unique. I don’t know many career advice podcasts that are as fun and honest as ours is. We did a whole segment on pooping at work for goodness sakes! The second reason our podcast is unique is rather obvious and that is the age difference between the co-hosts. Wendy is 57 and I am 25. We tackle the boomer-millennial divide every episode in a way that is always hilarious and oftentimes insightful.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am very well equipped for this question because I have planned many trips for friends visiting me in Denver (or Menver as we like to call it). A great combo is to grab a drink at Ship’s Tavern inside the beautiful and historic Brown Palace before going to dinner across the street at one of the best Mexican restaurants in Denver, La Loma. For more adventurous eaters I also love The Wolf’s Tailor in Sunnyside. A self lead brewery tour in RiNo is always a blast as well. Our Mutual Friend never disappoints. For a more sophisticated drink, The Cooper Lounge upstairs in Union Station always makes me feel like a fancy socialite. For brunch I am obsessed with Denver Biscuit Company. Don’t order this if you’re on a diet but, The Franklin is an egg cheese and bacon biscuit sandwich smothered in gravy that is TO DIE FOR… As far as site seeing goes, Red Rocks is a must!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are a few people to thank for the success of Big Girl Money. The first is our third teammate, Alexis Whitted. Alexis joined our team recently and has been running our social media, helping us define our brand, and lending a hand at live events. It has been a perfect fit for us and feels meant to be! Not to mention she has done all this amazing work without pay because, despite what the show name suggests, Big Girl Money is not profitable quite yet. Thank you Alexis, I promise we’ll pay you one day! My next shoutout is rather cheesy, but it is for my mom, Julie Burgener. Wendy always says on the show that I am “wise beyond my years”, and I think that comes from having a mom who has always allowed me the space to be myself. It would have been easy when I graduated college to convince myself that I wanted to be a Chemical Engineer, but my mom has always encouraged me to be honest with myself. Most parents would have expressed disappointment when their kid, who just got an engineering degree, was pursuing a career in restaurants, but not my mom. Throughout the millions of career paths I’ve ran by her she hasn’t batted an eye at a single one. This unwavering and unbiased support has made me so confident that the choices I make and the opinions I have are truly my own.