A group of NDSU alumni recently were recognized for their successful business careers. Five alumni were named to Prairie Business magazine’s “40 Under 40” list of top business professionals in the region who are under the age of 40.
Patrick Novak, BS ’99, agricultural economics, vice president of marketing for Border States Electric
Novak has for almost 15 years worked his way up the corporate ladder at Border States Electric. His abilities also are making people outside the company take notice.
“I was extremely excited to be included,” Novak said. “It’s quite an honor to be acknowledged in this region and throughout the community.”
In his role, Novak oversees the team helping to set the tone for its branding position in the electrical equipment wholesalers industry.
He also leads Border States Electric’s marketing and services group, which is the promotional arm of the company.
Border States Electric made $1.44 billion in sales last year.
Novak said NDSU’s collaborative and rigorous academic atmosphere helped prepare him for a successful career in business.
“NDSU gave me the base of knowledge that I continue to utilize today,” he said. “I learned to continually set my goals high. I’m still setting my goals high because it’s the best way to continue the success of this company.”
Ryan Raguse, BS ’11, accounting, president and co-founder of Myriad Mobile
Success has come quickly for 25-year-old NDSU alumnus Raguse.
“I was pleasantly surprised about being included,” Raguse said. “I really wasn’t expecting it. They only look at 40 people in the region each year, so it’s a pretty big honor.”
Raguse and fellow NDSU alumnus, Jake Joraanstad, started Myriad while they were undergraduate students. The technology-based business was built on the success of an app that allowed farmers to manage their operations from a mobile device.
In only four years, the company has already expanded to about 60 employees in offices throughout the U.S.
“I couldn’t have done it without the connections and the people around me at NDSU,” he said.
Myriad Mobile is likely to grow and Raguse has set a clear vision for its future.
“We want to build a very impactful company,” Raguse said. “We want to be an outlet for developers who want to work on cool things, we want to be able to give back with jobs and moving humanity forward. We’re very excited about all the inventive new technology we’re working on.”
Joanna Slominski, BS ’04, construction engineering, construction executive for M.A. Mortenson Co.
Slominski’s career isn’t measured by the years she’s been in it. It’s measured by the projects she’s made happen. And the construction executive’s latest is one of the largest projects of its kind in the country.
Slominski, is overseeing the construction of the new Sanford Health Medical Center in Fargo. The 109-acre, $494 million project is one of the 10 largest medical centers under construction in the U.S.
Slominski said it’s her natural tendency to run toward a challenge. That mentality has paid off in her career with M.A. Mortenson Co., which she joined immediately after graduating from NDSU. She’s been involved in numerous high-profile projects, including a trio of Minneapolis-based projects: University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, the Walker Art Center expansion and the new Minneapolis Public Schools headquarters.
She joined the Sanford project in 2012 and brought many NDSU alumni with her. Mortenson has many NDSU graduates working on the project. In her current role, Slominski oversees construction on the medical center. Her responsibilities include identifying any potential roadblocks and making plans to circumvent them.
Slominski also stressed that construction management isn’t simply about building. It’s about people. “It’s about getting them together and having them work together to come up with a final product,” she said.
She gained many of those skills at NDSU. She urges current students to get involved. Slominski developed leadership skills in the student chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America. She also held several summer internships that introduced her to different aspects of her field.
“I had a little taste of a few different industries,” Slominski said. “It set me on the path to construction management.”
She continues to give back to NDSU. Slominski is on the advisory board of construction management and engineering.
The Sanford project is slated for completion in 2017.
Nicole Washburn, BA ’01, architecture, BS ’01, environmental design, JLG Architects
Washburn is an architect by trade and she has built a career out of learning and seeking opportunities. Named a principal at JLG Architects in 2014, she’s quickly climbed the company’s ladder. Her success is being noticed.
She joined JLG in 2007 and quickly helped the company increase its profits by 1,400 percent. She then became staff coordinator and director of project management in 2011. Washburn became one of the JLG’s youngest ever shareholders and became branch manager of the company’s Minneapolis office in 2013.
Washburn said she learned from her initial experience and constantly strives for improvement. “JLG really helped me take those things I was passionate about and run with it,” she said.
She developed her passion and also credits her success to NDSU, where she was an active student. Washburn was a member of Golden Key International Honour Society, Libra Honor Society, Mortar Board Honor Society and Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society. She also was student director of the Volunteer Network where she gained experience coordinating teams and speaking in public, skills she regularly uses in her profession.
In her current role, Washburn works with and manages project teams from JLG’s nine offices. She also helps form teams to work on new projects.
Much of her focus is on housing. Washburn has worked on multiple affordable housing projects in western North Dakota.
“When you’re in the architecture program, it’s really a full-time job,” Washburn said. “I focused on student organizations at NDSU that built my communication skills and developed relationships. I’m proud to have been named to a group such as this.”
Shane Waslaski, BS ’98, zoology, president/CEO of Intelligent InSites
Waslaski’s passion is making a positive impact in his community and at his workplace. That’s exactly what’s been happening since he joined Fargo-based software developer Intelligent InSites in 2014.
Waslaski emphasizes with his team the importance of company culture. His philosophy is that good company culture positively influences overall performance. The primary goal is for leadership to set the tone.
“When you are establishing organizations, they embody the habits of the people,” Waslaski told Prairie Business. “There’s an importance to all of us to have consistency. … There is an important connection in the way people are valued and the way they behave.”
The company’s culture initiative helped Intelligent InSites nab 10th place on Modern Healthcare Magazine’s list of 100 best health care employers in the nation. Prairie Business named the company one of the 50 Best Places to Work in the northern Plains.
Waslaski has served on the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education and the board of the Village Family Service Center. He is currently a board member for Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest.
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