2014 35 Under 35 Alumna: Jess Engel, Human Resource Director, Red River Commodities

Written by: Brady Drake

Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in Fargo, graduated from North Dakota State, and I am a strong believer that the world is better when you get to experience four seasons. After pursuing a degree in education, I have spent my career pursuing all things people. My career has been primarily focused on talent development, talent acquisition, and culture development. I believe that true fulfillment comes from aligning with your purpose and for me that means fostering growth and development in others.

I enjoy coaching others on aligning with their purpose as well. I live in Fargo with my husband Christian, stepson Ashton, and six-month-old daughter Lila. I serve on the board for the North Dakota Autism Center, am a member of the Women United Leadership Team, and am one of the organizers for DisruptHR Fargo Moorhead.

What impact did your participation in the program have on you both professionally and personally?

35 Under 35 served as a catalyst for growth for me. I spent the early part of my career at U.S. Bank and had been tremendously fortunate with great opportunities, but I only had a view of that organization. The 35 Under 35 Program allowed me to elevate further as a leader as I was exposed to so many community leaders and learned from them.

On a personal level, the connections I have made are nothing short of amazing. It is like this amazing spider web of powerhouse women. Not only the lifelong friendships and connections from my class but those who I have met and connected with through them and future classes as well.

What were some of the most important things you learned?

Never underestimate the power of like-minded individuals. The program exposed me to people who were also looking to grow themselves both personally and professionally. That energy is contagious.

I learned a lot about my personal drivers and dreams. It sounds odd but I had almost stopped dreaming and while going through the program I started to dream about what my life could look like personally and professionally. It was those dreams that have led me to where I am today (and many more dreams have unfolded since).

What advice would you have for young professionals out there?

During the program, I was introduced to Morning Pages, the act of starting your day with 15 min of stream of stream-of-consciousness writing. I believe stream-of-consciousness writing is the single best tool you can have. By just grabbing a notebook and writing your thoughts on paper, you can see patterns, identify dreams, and work through emotions you didn’t know were there. I have shared this tool with so many over the last 10 years and when I am stressed or uncertain, it is still the first thing I do.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.