Schaumburg moved with her family to the area when she was only months old, and as she’s grown into an up-and-coming professional in Paducah, her early career achievements are as grand as the Lone Star State’s reputation.
At age 23, she has turned a marketing internship at the Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau into a full-time position as marketing assistant.
Destination Marketing Association International, a marketing organization with members from 20 countries, selected Schaumburg for its 30 Under 30 program, which highlights promising talent in the industry to further develop.
And colleagues have taken note of her passion and dedication.
“With Laura, two things come to mind,” said Brandi Harless, executive director of the St. Nicholas Family Clinic in Paducah.
“Laura is very passionate about serving the community, and two, something I think sets different leaders apart is follow-through. She has always followed through with what she said she was going to do.”
Harless was president of the young professionals service group Rotaract when she came to know Schaumburg as the club’s treasurer. Schaumburg is now the club’s president.
An independent panel added another reason to take note of Schaumburg.
The panel selected Schaumburg as the Young Leader of the Year, a Four Rivers Business Journal program sponsored by Sleep Outfitters.
For the second year, the Journal called readers to nominate their peers under 40 who strive for excellence in their careers and communities.
Ten finalists were chosen and were profiled in the August edition.
Schaumburg was recognized at an Aug. 23 luncheon in the Myre River Room in the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center where she also received a $1,000 scholarship to be used toward professional development.
And just as with last year’s first-ever Young Leader of the Year — Paducah Police Department’s Brandon Barnhill — folks will have to forgive Schaumburg for breaking the mold a bit.
Where Barnhill’s badge and authoritative presence masks his youthful side, Schaumburg stakes her claim on the other end of the spectrum.
A fresh face with an infectious charm, she has people question whether she’s old enough to garner Young Leader of the Year, or be leading projects at the Paducah CVB.
“You do get that,” Schaumburg said. “As in I’ve told women happy birthday, and they’ve said, ‘Oh, don’t tell me about birthdays, you don’t know what a birthday is.’”
But the same folks who see her as a student at first glance are the same ones later impressed with her work.
Harless said she experiences similar reactions as St. Nicholas director, and she said more established and experienced female professionals in the area have stepped up to help both her and Schaumburg.
“There definitely is a level of proving yourself,” Harless said. “And these women in the community have really stepped up and said, ‘I’m going to help you guys figure this stuff out.’
“People such as Kristin Williams, Maurie McGarvey and Mary Hammond. It’s been very surprising and encouraging to have people step up to the plate and have people help you.”
As director of the Paducah CVB, Mary Hammond has played a direct role in Schaumburg’s life.
“Laura is a very community minded person,” Hammond said. “She is already making a difference in Paducah. Laura is a good team player and, when needed, the team leader.”
As well as serving as president of Rotaract, Schaumburg is secretary and member of the public relations committee of the Paducah River City Business and Professional Women’s Association. She is a mentor at the Oscar Cross Boys & Girls Club, and a member of the Education Committee for the Kentucky Travel Industry Association.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations with a marketing minor from Murray State University, and is studying for a Professional in Destination Management Certificate through Destination Marketing Association International and George Washington University.
With so much ahead of Schaumburg, she feels her love for public relations and advertising her home community will keep her in the industry.
“I really love P.R.,” she said. “Just the idea of helping people have new experiences, exposing them to things they maybe don’t realize are out there, helping them understand more.”
And the more she travels promoting Paducah and western Kentucky, the more she appreciates her true home town.
“Every desination has a unique fingerprint, a set of authentic experiences, natural assets and unique history that differentiate it from all other places,” Schaumburg said. “As much as I enjoy traveling and realizing the special things about each new place, it reminds me how proud I am to be from western Kentucky and how natural representing Paducah and welcoming people to the region in which I grew up is to me.”
Call Adam Shull, Journal editor, at 270-575-8653 or follow @adamshull on Twitter.
More insight into the Young Leader of the Year
Laura Schaumburg’s answers to three questions helped an independent panel deem her as this year’s Young Leader of the Year. Portions of her answers were printed in the August edition of the Four Rivers Business Journal, as space did not allow for them in full. These are Schaumburg’s answers in full.
What is the biggest challenge for a young leader in today’s workplace?
“Young leaders are faced with the challenge to create a purpose-filled harmony between novice and veteran workers. Fusing the novice’s knowledge of new technologies with the veteran’s understanding of the business’s proven tactics fosters the development of powerful strategies. These smart, future-oriented strategies will empower the brand to endure the increasingly competitive marketplace.”
What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
“Self-control is a characteristic of successful leaders. Someone once advised me that a man’s weaknesses are his greatest strengths in excess. A leader must be able to balance the positive and negative expressions of innate characteristics — to make the most of those talents but also cultivate the ability to control intrinsic emotions and behaviors in difficult situations.”
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
“In order to ensure continued growth and development of my leadership potential, I aim to maintain an attitude of curiosity. I believe actively seeking and remaining open to new opportunities to hone skills, build enriching relationships and step out of my comfort zone will enable me to continue to evolve as a leader.”