35 Under 35: Anna Benson, Senior Marketing Strategist, Western State Bank

Written by: Brady Drake

Tell us about yourself. Tell us who you are and what you do.

I am proud to call Fargo my hometown, having been born and raised here. My academic journey began at Concordia College with a degree in business marketing, where I graduated in 2019. Recently, I accomplished a significant milestone by earning my Master’s in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University this February. Over the past five years, I have immersed myself in the world of marketing with a current focus on content creation, brand management, strategy development, and compelling storytelling for Western State Bank.

When I am not at work, I find joy in life’s little things. Whether it’s crocheting with my grandma, watching the latest films with my movie-obsessed partner Ross, or snuggling my dog, Remi, exploring new destinations, and spending time with family and friends over a homecooked meal.

Who are some people who have been influential in your journey and why? Who inspires you?

I am fortunate to have many remarkable and strong women in my life who have played pivotal roles in shaping my journey. Among them are my two older sisters, Audrey and Abbey. Since my early years, they have been instrumental in guiding me, opening doors to opportunities I might have overlooked, paving the way for my growth, and shaping me into the person I am today. Whether celebrating successes or navigating challenges, my sisters are the first people I turn to because I can always count on their honesty.

What drives you?

I find motivation in the art of relationship building. This is reflected in the fact that four out of my top five Clifton Strengths revolve around fostering connections, I believe there’s immense wisdom to be gained by taking the time to listen. From as far back as I can recall, I’ve been curious to meet new individuals, understand their uniqueness, and immerse myself in their stories. Each person offers a wealth of experiences, and by actively engaging in these connections, I not only learn about them but broaden my worldview in the process.

What are some important life lessons you have learned?

Practicing gratitude! Learning to appreciate what you have often leads to more happiness and contentment.

What are some of your favorite things to do in our community?

One of my favorite ways to engage in our community is to support our local small businesses. As the daughter of a small business owner (check out Paramount Sports!), I find that exploring boutiques, admiring art galleries, eating my way through local restaurants, and enjoying the cozy atmosphere of a coffee shop truly contributes to our community’s unique charm and landscape.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

This question is always tough for me because my dream list is long and something new is added almost every day! Ideally, I see myself being highly involved in the community and helping non-profits share their mission. My first job out of college was at HERO (shout out to my mom for encouraging me to apply) and it instilled a passion for nonprofit work and the community.

What are you hoping to gain from the United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program?

I hope to gain more confidence in my abilities, professional tools to help both myself and the community succeed, and 34 new friendships!

What are your passions outside of work?

My top love language is quality time. I love spending my time outside of work engaging with the people I love. Whether that be traveling, conversing over a glass of wine, game night, or just getting out of Fargo and enjoying time at the lake.

Tell us about 1-2 books, podcasts, or professional development experiences that have changed the way you view leadership.

My favorite recent read is “The Art of Gathering” by Priya Parker. Parker shares the essence of why we come together, provides insights behind meaningful gatherings, and encourages us all to question the intentions of our gatherings to foster a deeper understanding of their true purpose. “The Art of Gathering” has allowed me to think and to challenge myself to have more meaningful connections.

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