Lauren PetersenAlumni Voices: Lauren Petersen

Can you describe your career trajectory?

During my first year at Ball State University, my long-held interest in architecture and my passion for people and communities came together, sparking a new interest in understanding the built environment. I was fascinated by the dynamics of governmental systems and how policies affect people’s lives and choices. This led me to pursue a degree in Urban Planning & Development, which would allow me to establish a holistic understanding and approach to serving other individuals and communities. The art of place-making has its roots in revitalization, development and innovation, ultimately making cities economically competitive and better places to live.

My past leadership experiences have offered insight into the legal and economic tools that guide community development and placemaking. My work with the Indiana State House of Representatives, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, the Fulbright Scholarship Program, the Indiana Chamber’s Technology & Innovation Council and now TechPoint have further confirmed my devotion to public service. After completing my 2011-2012 Fulbright Scholarship English Teaching Assistantship in Poland, my interests were piqued in public diplomacy. In search to create a more purposeful, joyful and inclusive community, I focused much of my Fulbright exchange on civic involvement and volunteered directly with the U.S. Embassy and Consulate.

At the conclusion of my cultural ambassadorship to Poland as a Fulbright Scholar, I felt compelled to be back in Indiana to pay it forward to the community that invested so much in me as a young woman. Upon returning home, I received an internship with the Indianapolis Colts in their marketing and community relations department where I witnessed first-hand how an NFL franchise can serve as an economic driver for Indy and connects the community around a common sense of pride.

In 2012, I was fortunate to join Indy’s rapidly emerging tech community as a Field Marketing Specialist at ExactTarget, which was at the time the darling tech scale-up company who had just gone public. Six months later, Salesforce acquired ExactTarget for $2.5 million and my tech career was fast-tracked as I started traveling about 50 percent of the time from coast to coast and throughout Canada supporting six regional sales teams with go-to-market strategy and resources. In 2015, I was 26 years old with a corporate AMEX flying to the most spectacular cities and living one heck of an incredible life but felt an insatiable tug to develop my professional brand and endurance and truly understand what that one problem Lauren Petersen is uniquely qualified to solve. After lots of exploring, reading and praying, the most tangible way to manifest this calling was to hire a career coach, which Salesforce supported me in doing so.

In these few months of working with Caroline Dowd Higgins (a local career coach), I learned to embrace being a beginner again and hone in on my transferable skills. Doing so empowered me to enter the most creative and enriching period of my life. Simultaneously, my twin sister connected me to Mike Langellier, CEO of TechPoint, as he was looking to grow their five-person team. I recall Mike sharing his vision for the organization and the role during our first few conversations and even though there wasn’t a job description yet posted for the role, I wrote my own and sent it to him! Reflecting over the past five plus years since that day I said yes to my dream job, I am extremely grateful for being in a position where I can create solutions as a change agent and contribute to broader community and societal issues that I care deeply about.

What does your current job entail?

In my current role as Vice President, Stakeholder Engagement I lead TechPoint’s Relationship Management team and am responsible for our key stakeholders which include 150+ members, sponsors, partners and hiring companies. I love that my day-to-day responsibilities are so varied including securing annual fundraising commitments to project managing a wide variety of economic development, talent attraction and community engagement initiatives all in an effort to make Indiana a top state for tech amongst mid-sized states.

Please tell us about a favorite project and why it makes you proud.

I’m a firm believer that this city has given us a gift, and if we do our job well, we get to give that gift right back. I’m fortunate that in my role I not only get to work at the epicenter of the tech community, but I also get to represent our ecosystem in conversations and efforts with public, private and philanthropic sector leaders. What I’m most proud of is that I work for an organization that allows me to bring my passions and soul to work every day to, which often means stepping away from work to lead committee meetings and attend board meetings for charges that are supporting place-making and helping people and our community thrive.

What advice do you have for students who want a career similar to yours?

  • Embrace being a beginner again, because it will allow you to enter into some of the most creative and enriching periods of my life
  • Enjoy the confusion and the journey ahead - even if it's full of unknowns!
  • Focus on asking the right questions and be okay if the answers don't come immediately
  • Hone in on, and sharpen, your transferable skills
  • Show up, be genuine and get involved... it's a magical trifecta for opportunities to emerge!
  • Find what gives you joy and energy…because that’s when you’ll feel most alive!

Do you have a favorite Ball State or CAP memory to share?

During my junior year at Bluffton High School, my long-held interest in architecture and my passion for people and communities came together, sparking a new interest in understanding how I could play a role in transforming communities for the better. One of my teachers recommended I attend Ball State’s Design Thinking Summer Workshop, a two-week camp for rising seniors to get a first-hand, condensed experience of a typical semester at the College of Architecture and Planning. After my time at "Architecture Camp," I not only fell in love with the beautiful campus and inspiring professors, I grew even more fascinated by the art of place-making. Thanks to the Lilly Endowment Scholarship investing in my in-state tuition, I knew Ball State University is where I would thrive. Thus, I chose to pursue a degree in Urban Planning and Development, which has allowed me to establish a holistic understanding and approach to serving individuals and communities with the goal of making this place we call home, a place we love to live.