Class of 2009
Jennifer Mrozek was chosen for her role in a growing company and her work in organizations such as Forum of Executive Women, Junior Achievement, CentraCare Health Foundation and United Way
What are you doing now?
Chief financial officer at Marco Inc.'s corporate headquarters in St. Cloud.
How did the 5 Under 40 award affect your life?
It has been very rewarding to be recognized by so many people that I respect in our community. This has created opportunities for me to make lifelong connections with other local professionals. It also meant a lot to be nominated for the award by a very well-respected leader and friend at Marco.
Other big changes since you received the award?
Since receiving the award in 2010, Marco has acquired 20 companies, more than doubled its number of employees and increased revenue 45 percent. It's been exciting to collaborate with the many people involved in our acquisition process and help drive our growth. We also built our new St. Cloud corporate headquarters in 2012.
What will make the St. Cloud area greater in coming years?
The YMCA Community Aquatics Center will definitely benefit our community by promoting family recreation and healthy living to people of any age. Also the great work that the Greater St. Cloud Development Corp. is doing to retain and attract people to the area and to promote business growth will make St. Cloud a more thriving community.
Originally ran: January 1, 2010
When Jennifer Mrozek interviewed for a job at Marco in 1998, the woman asked Mrozek what position she wanted to hold in five years.
I want your job, she told the woman, who was Marco's controller at the time.
Mrozek has never lacked drive. She started as an accounting supervisor at the information technology company — her second accounting job out of college. Today she is Marco's youngest and only female member of its management team. She's helped lead it through a recession that has brought even the most experienced business leaders to their knees. In 2008, the company had its best financial year.
Marco is not recession-proof. Its sales were down 8 percent as of early November 2009, Mrozek said. But that year the business — which sells services and products related to voice, data, print and video technology — expanded into Rochester, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin by acquiring companies in those markets.
So how did she get here? She said managing the organization and its finances through this time has taken tenacity, mindfulness of the balance sheet and an ability to stick to her guns.
For example, one company wanted to sell products to Marco by offering deals through rebates. But it was in that business' best interest — not Marco's — to put its inventory on Marco's balance sheet.
"It was very hard for us to not chase after whatever they were offering," she said.
During times like that, she and others leaned on the guiding principle that cash is king.
It also took creativity and strategic thinking to grow during a recession. That's where the acquisitions of businesses headquartered in Rochester and Sioux Falls, S.D., came in.
Mrozek didn't end up where she is by accident. She's always worked hard. She saw it growing up, too — her parents were divorced, and her mom, who worked at a bank, raised Mrozek as an only child. She takes after her mother's perfectionism and strong work ethic, she said.
But it's not just hard work. She loves accounting, which was her favorite class even as a high school student. And she fits in perfectly at Marco, which she said encourages people to express themselves as individuals, as well as have a life outside work, whether it means having a family or volunteering or all of the above.
Her comfort level at the organization is clear. The biggest adjustments she had to make happened over time, as she gained more professional confidence and used her business intuition and knowledge to gain credibility.
There's no end game to success, she says. But certain milestones — such as winning this award — show her she's achieved some of it.
She is humble but committed. Methodical and forthright. She also likes to work.
And she's going to keep forging ahead. She wants to see the business continue to grow and innovate.
In her personal life, she seems to be just as driven as she was in her interview with the controller in 1998. She said she strives to be the best mom, the best wife, as well as giving and being involved in the community.
"To me, that's success," Mrozek said.
Education: Accounting degree from St. Cloud State University.
Hometown: Little Falls.
Involvement: Her involvement spans widely, but ranges from the Forum of Executive Women to Junior Achievement to CentraCare Health Foundation and United Way.
Job: Chief financial officer of Marco.
How she leads: People are everything. Make sure you pick the right staff — then develop and support your team going forward.