Not everyone has the opportunity to work with family, but Leah Brakke, director of marketing at Black Gold Farms, Grand Forks, N.D., said working with her father and two brothers every day is by far the best part of her job.
Brakke worked for the family company on and off through high school and college and decided to venture out on her own once she graduated college in order to expand her skills and knowledge base. Brakke returned to Black Gold to work full-time in 2011 because the farm was changing and there was a need for a more concentrated branding effort in marketing.
“I was drawn back to the family company and it just made sense professionally and personally,” Brakke said.
Traveling to agency events or trade shows, meeting and communicating with partners or customers and collaborating with sales teams are all part of a normal work week for Brakke. Her responsibilities include leading the external and internal strategic marketing plans, maintaining steady communication inside and outside the office, planning and executing marketing meetings and implementing social media into marketing efforts.
“Leah is a dedicated, passionate and creative person,” said Danielle Golden, executive vice president of sales at Black Gold, who has known Brakke for almost 26 years. “She encourages innovation and change, drives our organization to new ideas and clearly identifies and communicates priorities and deadlines to her co-workers.”
Brakke believes being a good employee and a great leader is about setting goals and making expectations clear, maintaining relationships and being dependable and transparent.
“You have to hire exceptional staff to ensure that your team is made up of some of the best people in the industry,” said Brakke. “If you put the time in, show up, and be open and honest, this will allow you to form and keep strong working relationships with employees, partners, customers and other industry leaders.”
Brakke said she values every relationship that she has formed whether that is with a co-worker or a customer.
Brakke has enjoyed watching how the company has grown, changed and expanded and is excited to see what’s ahead for Black Gold.
“The biggest challenge is remaining a step ahead of the industry when it’s so fast-paced,” said Brakke, “but I’m excited for the future of the company and I think we are just scratching the surface of what we are capable of doing.”