Executive Assistant of the Week: Chicago

Laura Kaufman
Executive Assistant to EVP, CFO
Horizon Pharma
Adjunct Faculty, College of Lake County

Laura believes the executive assistant role is the best-kept secret. She is an adjunct instructor at College of Lake County and corporate executive assistant at Horizon Pharma, supporting the Chief Financial Officer. Starting her career as an administrative assistant out of necessity, she held a full-time administrative role at an investment company, a part-time receptionist role on the weekends, and attended DePaul University full-time to complete her bachelor’s degree…while raising six children under 11 years old on her own. Laura believes her degree separated her from her peers early on in her career but admits the landscape is changing. Laura is a mentor and advocate to women experiencing transition in their personal lives while learning how to navigate re-entering the workforce, encouraging them by sharing her own personal trials and how she navigated through them and how the challenges prepared her for her role as an assistant and instructor.

Laura will be one of the distinguished contributors at the ELS Forum: Chicago on January 16-17, 2019

Tell us about a mentor who changed your professional life. What was it about this individual that left such a lasting impression?

Four mentors come to mind; one at each stage of my career

  • Monica – my complete opposite and a seasoned Admin at the time, since retired; I felt like she knew the role was changing and I was the breath of fresh air with the positive can-do attitude that wanted to be in the EA role for the right reasons. She provided the opportunity for me to shadow her, back her up in her absence, and take the time to explain the business.
  • Kelly – my executive at the time. Wickedly smart, quick, and one of the hardest workers out there. She was a perfectionist and forced me to meet her expectations, even if I didn’t think I could. She stressed “it’s all in the details.” Kelly championed for me and suggested I submit my interest for her boss’s boss’s EA role. When she was backfilling my role, she passed on a candidate…because her button sleeves were not buttoned. She said, “If she isn’t paying attention to her cuffs, how I can be sure she will pay attention to all the fine details in the role?”
  • Ritu – a chief of staff who partnered with me in supporting the executive. Ritu was transparent, provided needed context for things out of my scope, and championed for me.
  • Marilyn – one of my current executives. Creates opportunities for me to excel in a leadership role – giving me ownership in taking on projects. Recognizes the value of a strong assistant and consistently fuels my curiosity by sharing information that she, herself, finds inspiring, motivating, or a learning opportunity.

What is your favorite part about being a strategic business partner to your executive?

The satisfaction that I can make a great impact by paying attention to the small details, while maintaining a vision of the big picture.