Karen Swager’s journey to becoming the leader of Mosaic’s global operations began when she was a child. She visited a local foundry with her father, who worked as an engineer in Michigan’s automotive industry, and knew she wanted to follow in his footsteps.

“I was fascinated by the hot metal and the glowing red castings that would come out of the sand,” she explains. “That led me to take specific classes in high school and join a student group that promoted careers in engineering. I went on to study engineering in college as a result.”

Karen attended Michigan Technological University, where she earned both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in metallurgical engineering – studying metals and how metals can be safely transformed into products. She planned to work in Cargill’s steel division following graduation, but the company wanted to send her to Florida to interview for positions in both their steel and fertilizer divisions.

“I was a starving college student and decided to take the interview,” says Karen. “I went on a trip to sunny Florida in the middle of a cold Michigan January, I received the offer – and the rest is history.”

Growing Her Career   

Karen joined Cargill’s phosphate mining operations in 1994, working first as a Plant Metallurgist then moving into a Shift Supervisor role.

In the years that followed, Karen continued to grow her career with Mosaic, taking on General Manager roles at Mosaic’s Wingate and Four Corners facilities. She later transitioned to Vice President roles, first leading Mosaic’s U.S. phosphate mining operations, then Mosaic’s U.S. phosphate manufacturing operations. With support from Mosaic, she also earned her Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

In 2018, Karen was promoted to her first Senior Vice President role leading Mosaic’s North America potash operations in Canada and the U.S. In this role, Karen moved from Florida to Regina, Saskatchewan and engaged with our Potash employees and other stakeholders across Canada. She also announced the decision to accelerate completion of our the K3 project at our Esterhazy facility and led the potash team to a record safety performance year.

In 2020, Karen was named Senior Vice President—Supply Chain and assumed responsibility for the movement of raw materials and finished products, as well as strategic sourcing activities in North America. In this position, Karen focused on modernizing the customer experience by enhancing accessibility to order tracking and delivery status through the supply chain digital transformation and oversaw the formation of Mosaic’s first North America shared services team – now called Enterprise Business Services – which brought speed and efficiency to business-critical processes.

Karen Swager, Mosaic’s Executive Vice President – Operations.

In this role, Karen also started leading Mosaic’s Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) organization – which guided our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through her leadership, EHS worked with others throughout the company to help protect our people and ensure continued safe, responsible operations by enabling the sharing of best practices, lessons learned and critical health supplies across borders.

Today, as Executive Vice President – Operations, Karen also leads Mosaic’s global operations. That includes Mosaic’s potash and phosphate operations in North and South America, as well as Miski Mayo, Mosaic’s joint venture phosphate mine in Peru. She also serves on the Board of Directors for SSR Mining and is a member of SSR Mining’s Technical, Safety and Sustainability Committee.

“Karen’s diverse experience and strong connections she’s built during her time in this industry uniquely position her to lead our operations as we continue moving towards a One Mosaic way of operating,” says Bruce Bodine, Mosaic President and CEO. “She has a proven track record of building teams that deliver on Mosaic’s principles to be responsible, innovative, collaborative and driven.”

Building Connections 

As a professional engineer, Karen enjoys the technical aspects of her roles – but says helping build teams and develop the next generation of leaders is what she finds most rewarding. She is also the proud executive sponsor of Mosaic’s Employee Inclusion Network (EIN) for veterans.

“I’m fortunate to be able to work with talented people around the world, and I’m passionate about investing in our employees – just as Mosaic and other leaders have done for me,” says Karen. “I am committed to working alongside others to make sure they have opportunities to grow.”

Prioritizing Safety

In her connections with employees and other key stakeholders, Karen makes it a priority to talk about safety. She believes elevating leader engagement, fostering personal accountability, promoting psychological wellness, enhancing our management system, empowering our frontline employees and ensuring contractor safety all critical components of a robust safety culture.

“Mosaic has policies, procedures and resources in place – which are important – but our hearts and our minds must be in it. We have to take personal responsibility for protecting ourselves and others,” Karen shared with employees at a recent Town Hall. “The most important thing we do every single day is go home safe to our families at the end of our day or shift. That is more important than production, costs or anything else. Safety is always first.”