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Find what fills your bucket

Hard work and passion are key to leadership, says Alerus Center’s general manager in 18:83 Speaker Series address

Anna Rosburg, general manager of the Alerus Center, addresses attendees as part of UND’s 1883 Speaker Series. Joe Banish/UND Today.

Anna Rosburg, general manager of the Alerus Center since 2017, visited campus last week to chronicle her pathway to overseeing Grand Forks’ largest entertainment and sporting venue, and offer advice on effective leadership. 

Rosburg’s speech was part of UND’s 18:83 Speaker Series – taking place each Wednesday afternoon at the Memorial Union’s Social Stairs. Speakers time their addresses to approximately 18 minutes and 83 seconds, a number that coincides with the university’s founding year. 

A native of Elk River, Minn., Rosburg joked that Grand Forks is the latest stop on her “tour of the cold states.” She graduated from Johnson and Wales University, Denver with bachelor’s degrees in both entrepreneurship and advertising, and marketing and communications. She supplemented her education by interning with the Denver Outlaws – a former team in the now defunct Major League Lacrosse. 

After graduating from Johnson and Wales, Rosburg moved to Casper, Wyo., to be director of marketing for the Casper Events Center. She credits the experience with learning a wide range of skills relevant to her current position. 

“I think the small-town aspect of Casper really helped me,” she said. “It helped me dabble in a lot of different areas of event operations. I had the ability to learn operations, food service, sponsorships and all the things I probably had no business doing at 22, 23 years old. I remember a time I was sitting in the city manager’s office, and I was explaining why we needed $300,000 for a capital project. I don’t know how I was able to be in that room, but I think I’ve had some really good opportunities to be in rooms I wouldn’t have had I been in a big market.” 

Rosburg – who oversees a team of hundreds at the Alerus Center — said it is vital for leaders to make sure each member of the organization feels valued. 

“I always tell my staff, ‘it’s the ultimate team sport to be able to open the doors,’ ” she said. “I can’t open doors at the Alerus Center without hundreds of people willing to make it happen. It’s important to make sure the employees who are doing the front-line work feel valued.” 

Rosburg added that event management often leads to her employees working long hours to ensure events run smoothly – a reality that leaders such as herself must accept as well. 

“I talk about a lot embracing the grind,” she said. “Nights, holidays, family events, outworking the competition – I think that’s really important. I might not have been the smartest person in the room when I was 23, but I was going to outwork them.” 

Having a strong work ethic and drive to improve one’s skills, Rosburg said, is vital to career advancement. 

“Have the growth mindset,” she said. “Go to an organization where they believe in you. Instead of the classic ‘well, I’ve been here six months, and I want a raise,’ ask questions of the organization like, ‘what can I do, what can I learn and how else can I provide value to the organization.’ I think that makes a big difference in advancement. I know I appreciate hearing that from team members.” 

Rosburg concluded her speech by urging attendees to find a career they’re passionate about. 

“For me, I know what fills my bucket,” she said. “You might not know that if you’re a student, or you might be at a crossroads in your career and not know what that is anymore. To me, if I can’t stand out there and feed off the energy of 15,000 people at a Chris Stapleton show, I’m in the wrong business. You have to do the things that fill your bucket and make you passionate. It might be a lifelong journey for you, but keep trying, because eventually I think you’ll find the right thing you’re passionate about and gives you purpose.”