Laura Leddusire is an extraordinary woman working hard to make sure her franchise brand is seen the same way.
Most 27-year-olds don’t have the words “vice” and “president” preceding their names at work, but then again, most 27-year-olds aren’t Laura Leddusire.
As the vice president of operation at Best in Class Education, Leddusire is able to put her passion for learning to work, helping both her business, its franchisees and their students succeed.
How did you end up in your current role?
I started in the University of Washington’s Honors Program when I was only 16 years old. I had managed to earn my place in a competitive program called the UW Academy for Young Scholars. This program allowed me to skip two years of high school and go straight into college, where I later graduated with honors, Cum Laude, and with a degree in English and drama.
I dreamed of a job that would allow me to share my love of learning and to make a difference in my community. I also wanted a job that would challenge me and allow me to grow and thrive. I found the perfect fit with Best in Class Education.
I started with Best in Class straight out of college as an English tutor and began managing a Best in Class Education Center two years later.
When I first began with the company, there were two locations in Washington State. Six years later, we now have 33 locations nationwide and we are growing. After managing my own center, I began taking over the local operations, and I eventually went on to become VP of operations. I have always been a fast learner, and my drama and English background has given me the confidence and communication skills necessary to succeed at leading our team.
What have been the biggest challenges you've faced?
In college and in my early career, I was always the young one in the group. I was only 16 years old and the youngest in every class. Because of that, I often had to work twice as hard to prove how capable I was. I do think this is the reason I am a bit of a workaholic.
Professionally, the biggest challenge has also been the most rewarding. Helping Best in Class to grow from a small-scale local operation to a national franchise has been an exciting challenge. We have always had to be two steps ahead to make sure we developed a strong enough system to handle the rapid growth.
What has been the most important lesson you've learned?
I have learned that I am only as strong as my team.
Did you have any mentors along the way? If so, how did they help you? Any good advice to share?
I have had many wonderful mentors in my life.
Hao Lam, CEO of Best in Class, escaped Vietnam in search of a better life. He arrived in North America with only a backpack and built an education empire. He and his wife Lisa have always inspired me to dream big, to take risks, and to never fear failure. He is the most positive person I know, and faces every obstacle with a stubborn grin on his face.
My husband, Ben Leddusire, has always been so supportive of me, even with my demanding travel and work schedule. He is one of the most creative problem solvers I have ever met. He inspires me to push myself and to never settle for taking the easy path.
Darren Lay, artistic director of the Young Shakespeare Workshop, was an early inspiration for me. He inspired me to be a lifelong learner and to meet challenges face on. Working with him sparked my passion for education and that has led me to where I am today.
What is your primary goal for your career? What do you most want to accomplish?
I want to take Best in Class to the next level! I want to see us hit 100 franchises in North America. We want to bring the gift of learning to 100 communities across the U.S.
What has been the accomplishment you’re most proud of so far?
I am most proud of being a part of the growth of Best in Class. I was a part of it when it was a small-scale local company, and now it is a national franchise. I am proud of all the huddles, hurdles, meetings, cross-country travel, and the thousands of emails in between. It has taken a lot of hard work and dedication from our team to get us to this point. I am proud of where we are today, but I am even more excited for where we are headed.
What would your advice be to the next generation of young men and women hoping to make their mark on the business world?
Trust your instincts and do not be afraid to share your opinions. Communication is vital in any organization and do not shy away from sharing your opinions.
In your own opinion, what is the formula young executives should follow in order to mature into established business leaders?
First off, never stop learning. Always seek to grow and improve. Never settle and always look for ways to improve yourself, improve your company, and increase your knowledge. Be hungry for and open to new ideas. It will make you a valuable asset.
Next, always seek to challenge yourself. Growth does not come from taking the easy route. You will be surprised at what you are capable of.