Meet The DRG Team: Lanie Johnson
Meet The DRG Team: Lanie Johnson
At The DRG, we are fortunate to have three inspiring individuals on our Senior Management Team who set the strategic direction for our firm and serve as mentors to all our employees. Leading that charge is our President and CEO, Lanie Johnson. Recently, we sat down with Lanie to learn what it means to her to be a DRG’er and her definition of success at The DRG.
Tell us about the road that led you to a career at The DRG.
I started my career as a systems consultant for a benefits consulting firm after graduating from the University of WI-Madison in Computer Science and Statistics. I loved programming in college and wanted to consult with clients, so it was the ideal first job. When my husband and I decided to start our family, I needed to find an environment where I could not only achieve career growth but also grow my family. Finding the perfect environment to achieve growth and success is very personal and unique for every individual. For me, I found that environment at The DRG where there was an established culture of family and flexibility.
During my first ten years at The DRG, I learned a tremendous amount about marketing research by gaining experience working in positions across the company, including programming, project management, account management, business development, and operations, taking on increasing roles and responsibilities along the way. I’ve now been with The DRG for nearly 23 years, serving as President since 2005 and CEO since 2014.
How do you define your role at The DRG?
Our goal is to help companies improve their products and services by listening to their customers. We’re deeply passionate about this. We believe marketing research brings companies in tune with their customers, which ultimately, can really make a difference in ensuring the products and services of tomorrow are better than today.
My role in its simplest form is to work with our Senior Management Team to deliver on this purpose and to grow and improve The DRG each and every day. Some days that involves planning and strategy, while other days I am working with our teams on a new opportunity, consulting with a client, or providing feedback on internal efforts.
What are some of the best things about working at The DRG?
Hands down, one of the best things about working at The DRG is the people I get to work with every day. I’m thankful to be surrounded by creative and super talented individuals. We all work really hard at challenging ourselves and each other to grow smarter each day. Plus, we have fun doing it. One of our core values is, “Having fun puts a smile on work,” and we truly believe our work product is substantially better if we have fun producing it.
What achievement are you especially proud of in your career?
From a personal standpoint, I’m very proud I’ve been able to keep family first while working to achieve my career goals. I have a very supportive husband and we have two college-aged sons. Our family is very close and for that, I am extremely grateful and proud.
Career-wise, I’m really proud of how The DRG has grown and evolved over the last few years. We have accomplished a lot in a short time including refining our vision and mission, refreshing our company culture and brand, expanding our marketing efforts and thought leadership and modernizing our offices to more closely represent who we are.
Transformational change takes time, but it is very exciting to start to see it come together. We look different, we feel different, and we think different. It is a very exciting time to be part of The DRG and this is just the beginning.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’m lucky to have had great mentors in my life, who have shared their wisdom and advice with me regularly. Therefore, instead of selecting “the best,” I’ll share a wise statement that I have referred to many times in life. A person I greatly admire once told me, “There are two types of people in the world – those who get stuff done (GSD) and those who tell you why they can’t,” and it really stuck with me. In my career and life in general, I constantly refer back to this saying and always try to be a “GSD” kind of person.
Looking ahead, what excites you most about the future for The DRG?
The momentum we have right now is very exciting. With our acquisition of Probe Research Services last year and opportune growth with key clients, we exceeded our company goals and set forth an aggressive plan this year. We’ve expanded our DRG team with both fresh new talent and experienced industry veterans. We are in a strong position to continue growing and we have a team that is not only extremely talented and hard-working but one that understands the larger purpose for what we do.
What does success look like for The DRG?
One of my favorite core values at The DRG is, “Giving to others, gives back to us all.” I firmly believe that success comes to those who give of themselves. If we give to our clients through hard work and data-based opportunities to help them improve their products and services, we will be successful. If we give to our employees through providing an engaging environment and meaningful growth, we will be successful. If we give of our time and resources to our community and those who need a little extra help, we will be successful.