Young Professional 2016: Laura Eder

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Laura Eder is the 0perations decision support analyst, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

Courtesy Rich Breshears of Breshears Photography.
Courtesy Rich Breshears of Breshears Photography.

Hometown: Walla Walla

How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? 10 years

Family: I have a family. My husband and I consider our children to be all the pets we can handle!

Company background: Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is a collection of distinctive wine estates in Washington, Oregon and California, and U.S. distribution partner for a few select international wineries. The company provides administrative and financial support to the individual winery properties.

Tell us about your job/career and how you got into it: I went to college to be a teacher, but quickly developed an interest in finance when I took a job working at a check cashing place. There were so many things about that place that motivated me to gain full command of how money works. After college, I started my career in banking and ended up managing the treasury. I learned and did a lot, including multi-department budgeting.  It was ultimately budgeting that translated across industries and allowed me to transition from service to consumer goods when I was ready to leave banking. Today, I do operating and capital budgets throughout the company and provide financial analysis support for the various production operations.

Business philosophy: Focus on substance and take the long view. You can never go wrong working toward having the best product or service that serves a real demand in the market. If you focus on the true economic impact your business is creating over time, it will lead to sustainable financial success.

Life philosophy: Have integrity and keep trying. No matter where you go or what you do, you will still have to live with yourself. Everybody has mistakes and bad days, but if you can be real about it, learn from it and honestly say you tried, you are going to be OK.

What are your lifetime goals? I would really love to be involved with economic policy at the national level.  Ask anyone from my middle school and they’d tell you I want to be the president of the United States.  Realistically as an adult, I would much prefer to calculate things, do research and provide advice than actually be a politician.  Another goal I have is to develop and implement some comprehensive financial education as part of the social services that are available to people.

Community involvement/community service: My grandmother used to tell us to count our blessings and it has made me notice the community around me. I think it’s important to participate how we can. As a teen I volunteered at a nursing home, I was the treasurer of our family support group when I was an Army spouse, and I participate in booster activities for my kids’ school. Most of my community involvement now is through United Way’s Young Leader Society, volunteering for events or promoting United Way initiatives. Our United Way here in the Tri-Cities makes a meaningful contribution to the quality of life that our community enjoys, and by participating in a system that works, we can do even more work than we can as lone individuals.

How do you stay competitive in your job/industry? Say yes and then commit.  Opportunity does not always present itself in appealing packaging that you recognize as a good thing.  It often comes knocking in the form of an extra assignment, request for help from a colleague or weird project derivative.  It will probably not seem like you have time for it, but if you say yes and then commit the extra energy to make it happen you can learn something or meet someone that will lead to your next step.  At the very least it broadens your experience and makes you better at your current job.  Obviously a person can’t literally say yes to everything, but I’ve not been sorry for the ones I have.

Who were your mentors and what did they teach you? I have been blessed with mentors at every stage of life, from my parents to my teachers and colleagues. My advice above about saying yes to opportunity is courtesy of my dad. Another one that I quote often is a JROTC instructor I had in high school who always said, “You win in spite of.  You don’t lose because of.” It has gotten me to the other side of some grueling work and personal moments. A current colleague of mine has very patiently taught me that not all big deals can be allowed to be a big deal. There is not enough collective energy for one emergency after the other. That one has been good too.

Toughest business/career decision you had to make or obstacle you had to overcome? The toughest business decision I had to make was to leave banking. I did have an opportunity to continue my banking career at a different bank and I chose wine.  It was kind of a step back in terms of rank and title, and a new industry to me. I also thought that the banking system was my love, so it was a major crossroads. I finally went to my strengths and applied methodical analysis, which ultimately led me to leap into the unknown. I haven’t looked back.

First job: My first job was working for a friend of my mom’s at her newly formed cabinet business when I was in high school. I was actually fired from that job. I believe it was the combination of my socializing with her kids and business being slow that led to the decision to let me go. I learned the best lessons any kid can learn from work. First, I learned to focus and minimize distractions at work. Second, I learned that businesses are a struggle to get off the ground.

What do you like most about what you do? The people. Hands down. Sure, I love to solve a puzzle and explain analyses, but what drives me to stay up until one in the morning to finish it on a tight deadline is not the joy of solving the puzzle, it’s knowing how I’ll help the person I’m doing it for.

Least? Corporate reporting. It’s like running on a treadmill: serves a valid need, yet feels so tedious.

What reality show would you like to be on? “American Ninja Warrior.”  I would love to be that strong.

Favorite book: “The Power of One”

Favorite band: Cake or Voodoo Alley, if we’re talking local bands.

Favorite way to spend the weekend: Hanging out with friends or family, sleeping in and making brunch at home.

What thing would people be most surprised to learn about you? I had a Texas drawl when I was a kid.