Q & A with Laura Schauer!

Posted September 10, 2019 By Laura Schauer

What is your role at ILLUME?  
I am a Principal Advisor for ILLUME. On a day-to-day basis I could be doing so many different things! I came to ILLUME with a focus on evaluation and research. I still focus and thrive on these areas, but over the years I’ve integrated operational elements, including developing systems and tools to optimize our team’s work and time,
into my position. ILLUME strives to be a place where work and life go hand-in-hand, complimenting rather than competing with each other. In consulting, that can be challenging, and it is easy to overextend (or underextend)
staff. So, managing that process with our team is a big part of my role. I’m also always collaborating with our team, particularly on the project management and research methodologies. I love the design and risk assessment in our work as well as thinking through the best approach to meet the needs of our clients. All in all, many days feel like it
is a total balancing act. A perfect combination of project work that stimulates my thinking and keeps me engaged, along with internal training, operations, and planning that allows me to work with this fabulous team.

Where are you from and where do you live now?
I’ve (sadly?) never left Wisconsin. I grew up in the Milwaukee area, moved to Madison for school, and then never left. Those who visit know the depth of my love for the Madison area, even with the cold and snow. There is almost nothing better than sitting at the lake overlooking the capital, and going to a Badger football game never gets old for me.

Who or what inspires you in your work?
Honestly, there’s no one person or one situation I would want to call out. But at its most basic level, I am inspired by all my intelligent, driven, and mission-focused colleagues who are doing good work and serving their communities. I am also inspired by those that invested in, and mentored me early in my career. My hope is I can provide that same service and support to young professionals I work with.

Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have two cats and a dog. Don’t let the two cats fool you; they are in our house just by happenstance. We are dog people through-and-through.

What are your favorite hobbies?
Just about anything that gets me outside and into the sunshine, hot or cold. Hiking, biking, boating, camping, etc. My family are also avid game players; we’ve been known to spend hours on-end with a couple of decks of cards.

What’s your favorite quote or motto?
Gosh, I don’t know if I know this! Maybe, “It is what it is”. There are some things we just need to let go of!

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I hated any job where I was bored and couldn’t use my brain. Probably the worst was when I worked at Boston Store in the swimsuit/coat department. Why do the swimsuits and coats go together at Boston Store?! Whatever the reason, it was so odd to be responsible for selling winter clothing immediately after rearranging and hanging swimsuits.

What is the best concert you ever attended?
Ben Folds. Just so fun and musical.

What is your superpower?
I am not good at defining my own superpower! From a work perspective I am good at getting into the minutiae and then quickly being able to pull up to see how things fits into the bigger picture, and visa-versa. I love being analytic and thinking from all angles in this way. It can slow me down in my work, but it’s also so satisfying when I feel “I got it”.

If you could have chosen another career path, what would you be doing?
SUCH a good question. I have to say, this career path is exactly what I wanted, and I just fell into it, I didn’t choose it. I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything different at this point. However, I would say there are days when the seemingly simply life of working at a small bookstore or being a barista appeals to me! Although likely only for a day!