Inside Tigunia: A Conversation with Laura Schmitz, Solutions Consultant

 

Thank you for reading this month’s Inside Tigunia. Tigunia is comprised of industry-leading experts. Inside Tigunia features full-length, candid conversations to introduce the team to our friends and clients.

 

This month’s spotlight will be on Laura Schmitz, Solutions Consultant.

 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

 

 

Tigunia
Alright, so how did you find yourself working in the information technology and security field?


Laura Schmitz
Well, it was a wild journey, actually. I like to call it my dark past. I actually started out as a high school teacher. I taught 7th through 12th grade French, English and history. I did that for a few years.


Tigunia
Oh, wow.


Laura Schmitz
But then my student loans started coming due. And I couldn’t really make that on a teacher salary, so I found my first office job and ended up working directly with the owners of that business. It was a vision and eyeglasses company. I’m totally dating myself, but that was when people were really first starting to use email kind of exclusively and getting into programs like Excel and Word.

So, I helped kind of get the whole executive team on shared calendars and got all of our financials and everything into Excel spreadsheets. I started training up people in the office about these new technology tools that we had. And with that job I kind of morphed into marketing role and was able to work with marketing tools and running that department. When that company sold, I went on to a sister company again in the marketing field. It was like another new beginning. After that, the company did a massive layoff. I found myself in the maintenance industry working with building maintenance, janitors, facilities directors and so forth, and I built some tools that would allow us to do better inspections.

And then I was doing so well in that in that job and I loved it so much, some of my customers are actually wondering, “Hey, would you ever do your own consulting thing?” So I did, and I thought “This is great!” And that was in 2008 and everything came tumbling down in the market. It was like the worst time to start a new business. So I had to kind of pick myself up and I started working for a software company that was just starting up and I helped build that company. I worked there for over 7 years and I really had a good time. I actually worked with one of Tigunia’s clients. They were looking to upgrade, and so I helped in that respect with that company and became the lead of the IT department. That’s how I first heard of Tigunia, through that that company. So when I decided to leave, Tigunia offered an opportunity and I took it. So here I am.

 

Tigunia
OK, awesome. Quite a journey. Since your start, how would you say the industry has evolved over time?

 

Laura Schmitz
Oh my gosh, it’s crazy. I feel like…you know, my mother-in-law is 93 and she saw the first flight. And I kind of feel the same way with technology. Everybody is doing their work on-the-go, on their phones. That would have never occurred to me even 15 years ago that people would be doing that, but I find myself doing it and getting irritated if I can’t get to Business Central on my phone or something. So I would say that the mobility and the ease at which you can do work is the biggest change in this industry.

 

Tigunia
Okay, that would make sense. Describe if you could a time when you were able to improve upon the design or workflow that was originally in place.

 

Laura Schmitz
I’ve been fortunate to do that a lot in my career in very different industries. Probably the best things I’ve been able to do is eliminate paper processes and help people leverage the tools that they’ve spent really good money on and are only using 10% of. Through my last couple positions, I’ve been able to help over 300 customers get off of paper processes or Excel spreadsheets and use upwards of 80% of the tools in the in the packages and the systems that they bought to actually create efficiency and see efficiency happen first-hand.

Even to this day, there is some resistance to getting out of those manual processes, but once they do, they see that how easy that can be to automate some of these tasks. And it really allows for people and for companies to expand and do things that they’ve always wanted to do. Whether it’s offering new products or services or just having a better work life balance. I’ve seen it rejuvenate teams and they’re able to move on with things that they’ve always wanted to do.

 

Tigunia
That’s a good point. What are your go to resources to remain up to date on the latest information on tactics in this field?

 

Laura Schmitz
Well, it’s a vast array. I have a lot of notifications and newsletters and blogs that I subscribe to. If there’s a new acronym or something I’m not familiar with in an article, I’ll kind of do a deep dive and look for more information about that and set up new notifications to keep myself going.

Frankly, our team is also a vast array of knowledge and wisdom. I try to soak up as much as I can and try to apply it to my day-to-day. So if I learn about something new, I try to think of a client that’s been struggling with a particular issue that that this new technology or this new process might help. I reach out to them and we talk about it together and learn more about it together to eventually implement.

 

Tigunia
How can you create motivation for yourself and for the team members around you?

 

Laura Schmitz
Well, when you work remotely that that can definitely be a challenge sometimes.

 

Tigunia
For sure.

 

Laura Schmitz
I definitely have my routines, like I try to keep with my routines to keep work-life separate. I love to problem solve and that’s what I do all day long. So it’s like a puzzle. Every potential email I get is something that a client needs help with. Or it could be a colleague looking for some assistance to try to figure out a complex problem or try to figure out a way to help somebody else.

That’s how I keep motivated. I use a lot of humor and I love to laugh. I love to make other people laugh and so if I’m not laughing in a meeting or if I don’t have somebody else laughing in a meeting, then it’s not a good day. I’m typically successful so I have a lot of good days.

 

Tigunia
That’s a good way to put that. Alright, another question, how can you leverage your experience in software to provide the best solution for clients?

 

Laura Schmitz
Well, I’ve been really fortunate to have worked with a lot of different companies, different sizes, different cultures, different industries. And I’ve been exposed to a lot of different processes that people have either put in place that they would need to eliminate or that they absolutely adhere to and would need their solutions to work within those processes. So I come at every project and every potential issue with that mindset kind of backing me up. It’s like I’m going through an index in my brain like, “Hey, there is another person that dealt with this exact same thing.

This is what they did and this is how I think you could leverage that and how we can progress this even further.” I really try to take all of my experience and bring it to every situation so that I can sort through and find the best solution. Fortunately, I still have a really great memory, so hopefully that keeps up and I’ll continue to be able to do that.

 

Tigunia
Excellent. Earlier you mentioned work life balance and how some of your processes have helped people with their work life balance, so I’m curious, what does work life balance mean to you? What does that look like?

 

Laura Schmitz
I don’t believe that I’m working 100 hours a week. I don’t believe in the warrior mentality. I think that’s a burnout mentality, and while occasionally you have to do it because of an emergency or something, it really should be the exception and not the rule. So I really do limit my week to try to keep it under 45 to 50 hours a week and I shut things down. I have one day a week where I’m technology free. My phone stays on the charger and I’m just in my life. I’ve been married for 20 years. My husband and I have a ball together. We live on a lake, we do boating. I’m a huge water fan. I love to swim and float and do anything that includes the water. Being able to take the spoils of work and apply that to the pleasures of life it something I definitely take as far as I possibly can.

 

Tigunia
That’s really awesome. So what’s your favorite book and/or movie of all time and why did it speak to you so much?

 

Laura Schmitz
Okay, so for books, I’m definitely not going to be able to say because I read every day and I read a lot. My Kindle told me I read 65 books last year so I can’t possibly say. I particularly love suspense and historical fiction. I’m kind of all over the place. I do read some business books, but only if they’re recommended to me or they pop out in an article that I’ve been reading.

My all-time childhood favorite memory is reading Little Women. I read that a lot and I have 5 copies. One of them is like so beaten down I can barely recognize it, but I used to climb a tree and read that.

 

Tigunia
Oh, wow. So what’s the book you’re currently reading?

 

Laura Schmitz
I’m reading this book called the Last Sister. It’s a mystery based out of Oregon, and it’s inspired me so much that I’m going to take a trip to the Oregon coast again. I’ve been there before, but now I miss it. It’s a good one. As far as movies go, that’s very easy. I have two favorite movies and it kind of describes my personality. The first is Sound of Music and the second is Seven. Which are completely different. It just kind of goes to explain that I love a range of experiences and so those are my two favorite movies.

 

Tigunia
What is your life motto?

 

Laura Schmitz
It’s a quote actually from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
So like I said, I was a teacher, and really, I’ve been teaching throughout my whole career. I never really left it. A lot of my job is about training and helping people to understand concepts and learn new things. And I hate it when somebody says, “This is a dumb question,” or, “I hate to ask this stupid question.” Nobody should ever feel that way.

And being a woman in this industry, a real male dominated industry, it can be easy for you to feel like I’m inferior. And I’ve definitely had those moments, but I remember that if I ever do, I’m consenting to that. And it’s not okay. I’m not inferior, I just need to learn, and that’s kind of what I go by when I’m feeling a little overwhelmed or I feel like I’m out of my comfort zone. But I always think of that quote and I actually have it framed on my desk.

 

Tigunia
It can be so helpful to keep those encouraging thoughts close by. What is the most significant event of your life up to this point?

 

Laura Schmitz
It’s definitely meeting and marrying my husband. He’s definitely the Ying to my Yang. It sounds really sappy, but we definitely are soul mates. And he’s a very laid-back guy. He keeps me grounded because I can tend to push, push, push and he reminds me and keeps me grounded. He reminds me what life’s about, and it’s not about anything except the people and the relationships that you have.

I approach work that way too. I have really great relationships with coworkers and clients, both current and past. It’s really important to me to be as authentic as I as I possibly can in every environment, so that the Laura that you get when hanging out on the patio having a cocktail is the same person you get in a professional meeting. I really try to be authentic and he is the one that ensures that I stay that way.


Tigunia
Alright, this is the final question. What do you do to make life count?

 

Laura Schmitz
I tried to be a positive influence on others’ lives every day. I try to make sure that I have taught somebody something, that I’ve helped somebody with something, that I have made a difference, That goes back to the reason why I originally wanted to be a teacher, because I wanted to make a difference.

And I’ve found that I’m able to be my best when I can see myself make a difference in others. I’ve been fortunate to have people that have reported to me or clients that I’ve worked with that come back and thank me for something that I thought was so small. That really made a difference to them. You never really realize how much of a difference you can make, and so if I’m out at the store and somebody is looks like they’re really in a rush, I’ll let him in front of me. Or a mom that has two screaming toddlers , I may buy a cup of coffee or something like that, because even the smallest little things can make a big difference in someone’s life.

 

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