Darren Blue is a development strategist for ISG’s Sports and Recreation Business Unit and is responsible for forging new relationships and opportunities between ISG, clients, partners, and communities. Find out why the former Minnesota State University, Mankato Men’s Hockey team coach replaced his hockey skates for a hard hat, and how he uses his coaching skills on and off the rink.

How did you transition from the sports arena to the AEC industry?

Before I joined ISG, I use to sit at the other side of the table as a client. I was the assistant coach for the Minnesota State University, Mankato Men’s Hockey team, and ISG worked on many projects for the hockey program. Throughout those projects, I met Amanda Prosser and Jeremy Wiesen, and we hit it off. We had some discussions about what it would look like if I changed gears and took on a role as a development strategist for ISG’s Sports and Recreation Business Unit, and I joined the team.

What is your favorite part about working at ISG?

I live and breathe sports, so I love to continue my work in this area in a different capacity. I especially love to see how projects affect related sports programs, players, coaches, and fans. Modernizing spaces brings a great sense of pride to the program and the team, so it’s awesome to be able to provide that sense of achievement.

What sports and recreation project are you excited about?

We’re working on a lot of impactful projects. The Rozenboom Family Athletic Center remodel and expansion at Dordt University is going to make such a positive difference for their players, students, staff, and community. Taking a gymnasium that had a rich history and character, and finding ways to modernize it results in a recruitment and student retention tool for the University—all while keeping the home-court advantage feeling.

How do some of your coaching skills translate to your role as a development strategist?

There are many similarities between coaching and business development. There are shared aspects regarding the strategy behind recruiting, coaching, and business development. In coaching, you have to recruit the players and staff. Similarly, in business development, you have to work to effectively communicate and create a clear message for both existing and new relationships. This relationship brings a bright future to both a player and a client.

What do you do for professional development?

Just like I would constantly learn about the game and strategize around it, I am constantly learning about what is going on in the industry and figuring out what our next move is. I dive into industry trends and what other firms are working on. Thinking about how we will make a difference for others is what keeps us ahead of the game.

Do you have a motto or personal mantra?

My dad says if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. I’m not sure why that has stuck with me throughout the years, but it certainly impacts me as an employee owner at ISG. We are all in on every interaction, conversation, and project. We work hard and work together. If we put in the right effort, it can mean great outcomes and make a difference in that community. If we know a project is going to make an impact, we are all in.

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