Rising Star Series

Rising Star – Laura Drager

Laura Drager is the Marketing Manager at ISG in Mankato, where she helps lead the general marketing and business unit marketing strategies. She tackles ISG’s website, social media, advertisements, campaign initiatives, digital media, and other marketing needs in her role. She is also a proud board member of Greater Mankato Growth’s GreenSeam. Let’s meet Laura: 

What steps did you take to get to your current position? 

Step 1 – Received an awesome undergrad and MBA education from Southwest Minnesota State University (go Mustangs!).  

Step 2 – Surrounded myself with inspiring people, got involved, and looked for opportunities to engage and use my voice in marketing and communications. I am fortunate to be able to lean into a personal and professional network that motivates me.   

Step 3 – Was willing to take a few leaps. This included moving to the Mankato area, joining ISG, getting involved with Young Professionals and other local organizations and nonprofits, and applying to the GreenSeam Board of Governors. 

Why did you choose this career path? 

I grew up on a farm in Central Minnesota. Life was busy, and the work was constant. So I gravitated toward a career in marketing in college when I discovered the work ethic and fast-paced nature of my agricultural roots aligned with the profession. Today, marketing still allows me to run fast, get results, be strategic, and collaborate with a super creative team. 

What personal strengths help you excel in your chosen career? 

Being married to a row crop/hog farmer brings challenges and perspective that result in strengths as outcomes. Personal strengths learned over time and in this industry, such as patience, motivation, flexibility and communication, have all been a benefit to my career path. My ability to work with all types of people has also opened doors and helped me grow a strong team.  

What is your favorite part of your job? 

The best part of my job is the team. The creativity and good times are endless! At ISG, we thrive in our employee-owned environment where we have a no jerks allowed policy, we must be present to win, and happy hour occurs weekly. 

What inspires/drives you? 

People inspire me. I am thankful and intentional about surrounding myself with creative, motivated, and genuinely enjoyable people in my personal and professional life. 

I’m driven by a competitive mentality and wanting to try new things with the understanding that lessons learned are just as valuable.  

What advice would you give to other young professionals? 

  1. Don’t be afraid to say yes and fail fast. Try something out of your wheelhouse, but recognize quickly when the value isn’t there and move on.  
  1. You will never regret being involved in an organization that supports others or the community. If you are unsure where your passions lie, dive in and start testing the waters. I threw myself into a mix of opportunities before ultimately committing more time and energy to GreenSeam, whose mission is to elevate the region as world-class food and agribusiness epicenter, which aligns with my personal and professional life. 
  1. There is rarely an “I” project, task, lead, or win – recognize that “we” is what matters and keeps the lights on.   

Are there any training or events that have significantly impacted your career? 

At ISG, we are big believers in Clifton’s StrengthsFinder. We train ourselves to understand our own strengths and the strengths of our team members. The greatest impacts on my career have not come from formal training or an event. Rather, it’s been impacted more by conversations with peers, constructive feedback from mentors, and utilizing my natural strengths. 

What app can’t you live without? 

There are two apps that my family couldn’t live without because of our location in rural Minnesota: the Amazon app and the Weather app.  

  • Amazon app – I have three kids under three, and the closest grocery store is about 40 minutes away. With limited time, this resource has been my lifesaver.  
  • Weather app – I live in rural MN and am married to a row crop/hog farmer. Our lives are driven by the weather, especially in the Fall and Spring.  

Looking back on the beginning of your career, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then? 

Don’t look for a title when job searching; look for a company/firm that you fit with culturally. Find a mentor (or two) and make an effort to connect regularly.  

Ashley Hanley

A freelance writer from Mankato.