Laurie Schramm Lavietes

Degree and Year: 
BA 1980
Professional Title: 
Director of Business Development
Employer: 
Freshens Quality Brands

Professional Background: 
For my first job out of college I was a news reporter for WDNC radio. My reporter responsibilities included government and education coverage, and had the opportunity to return to Duke and cover events going on there, like interviewing the students during the sad time when John Lennon was shot. I was then hired by Coca-Cola Company for a Territory Sales position in New Orleans, LA, calling on restaurants to provide merchandising and marketing ideas to boost beverage/restaurant sales. I was promoted after 18 months to Customer Service Manager, responsible for monitoring service provided by Coca-Cola Bottlers and independent service agents in Louisiana, Mississippi & Arkansas. After 2 years in this position I was promoted to Area Account Executive and transferred back to Atlanta, GA calling on key accounts to implement marketing programs to drive sales. One of my key accounts was a fast growing company called Freshens and I joined them in a Business Development capacity, spending most of my time focusing on the newly emerging college market. I worked for Freshens for 7 years until I relocated to Baltimore, MD due to my husband's position. Once I relocated we had our 3rd son and I spent about a decade holding a variety of PTA board positions, including PR/Communications Representative. I also acted as a regular substitute teacher for grades K-8 during this time. I then returned to work full time as an Enrollment Adviser at Laureate Education for Masters and Phd Program applicants, and held this position for about three years. Although this was a nice blend of education and sales/client services, I missed the food service industry. As a result I took a position as Quality Assurance Coordinator for McCormick Spice Company, investigating and resolving complaints arising out of quality issues for accounts such as Kraft, Kellogg & Nestle. My career then took an interesting turn as I was approached last fall by the President/CEO of Freshens, who asked me if I would like to return to the company and work with the college market once again. Since I left the position 20 years ago the company's menu offering has expanded to include a wide variety of healthy eating alternatives for college students, including many vegetarian and gluten free options. This is something that I feel is very important, so I took the position and intend to finish out my career here. I guess one could say that my career took a lot of twists and turns over the past decades, but I came full circle back to the job I enjoyed the most. I was lucky.

How has being an English graduate from Duke University helped shape your professional success?: 
Being an English graduate from Duke University has helped me in several ways. First of all, the education itself has provided me with skills that have enhanced my performance professionally. I remember one particular professor, Dr. Dearlove, who pushed me to write better papers grammatically, but she also encouraged original thought and creativity. I also feel that my Duke English degree has been instrumental in making me a more effective communicator, which is extremely important in the business world. Another way that being an English graduate from Duke has helped me is that I am a benefactor of the value of the degree. While I going through the interviewing process for several different positions the fact that I graduated from a highly regarded university was mentioned. I even had one interviewer say to me, "I graduated from Johns Hopkins and I really appreciate the value of a good education; I see that you graduated from Duke?" Being a graduate of Duke University's English program has given me a great sense of pride. Finally, on a more personal level, being a Duke English graduate has further enhanced my love of reading and understanding literature. This love of reading is something that I will have for the rest of my life.
Laurie Schramm Lavietes