Step Into the Spotlight, Laura Feigel — You’re a 2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star!
All-Star Ninja Snapshot
Title & Company
Executive Assistant to the Vice President and COO, Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority in Grand Rapids, MI
# Years as an Office Ninja
Laura has perfected the mysterious art of getting her three kids to smile for family photos.
Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled to spotlight the tremendous impact admin professionals have on the workforce and global business community. While coronavirus threw us for a loop this year, our 2020 All-Stars rose to the challenge with great collaboration, flexibility, and fun personal photos!
Considering Laura Feigel works as the Executive Assistant to the Vice President and COO at Gerald R. Ford International Airport, we’re tempted to stuff this All-Star profile with aviation puns. (Laura’s career has really taken off! She’s definitely elevated the Ninja role!). Instead, we’ll take a cue from her colleague Casey Ries, Engineering & Planning Director, who gave it to us straight:
“Laura is consistent and persistent. No challenge is too large or too small for Laura, and she sees each through to the end.”
Simply put, Laura has produced exceptional work for 18 years and steadily ascended (we couldn’t resist) from an entry-level admin position to one in which she makes crucial decisions for one of her organization’s most important leaders.
Along the way, she’s improved internal travel processes, coordinated important events, and assisted with construction projects. She’s known for her unshakeable work ethic and compassionate leadership — and enjoys active membership in the Life-Long Learner Club (no membership fee; all welcome).
She’s an All-Star for sure, and we can’t wait for you to meet her. Enjoy our interview with Laura Feigel!
Tell us about the craziest day you’ve ever experienced as an Office Ninja.
At the airport, no day is the same, but there is one thing we can always count on: a multitude of customer inquiries via phone.
One day, our phone system went haywire and the reception desk was overloaded with calls, so my co-EA Margie Witbeck and I had our IT department add our phone lines to the main phone tree. Our phones rang non-stop all day while we tried to complete our regular duties. We probably received 100+ extra calls that day!
Everyone in the office was aware of the situation and gave us flexibility to manage it. If one of us had something pressing, we’d remove ourselves from the call-extravaganza, and re-enter when we could.
It all made for a pretty hectic experience, but Margie and I got a good system down. Tackling it as a team really helped us conquer the day — and even build up our camaraderie!
What is it like partnering with a co-EA?
Margie supports the CEO while I support the COO, and we make a good pair. She and I used to work a lot together on events and meeting planning, so we had an opportunity to establish a collaborative foundation.
An EA partnership allows you to offset each other’s weaknesses and helps you to grow. For instance, I’m very direct and to the point, so sometimes when I email someone, all of the pleasantries have already been expressed (in my head) and I cut straight to the chase. Margie, on the other hand, is a natural when it comes to rapport and that is something she inspires me to improve.
Even if you don’t have the benefit of having a co-EA, you can still seek out that kind of helpful accountability with another EA — whether in your organization or in the admin community.
What’s your favorite part of being an Office Ninja?
I like the responsibility of being dependable. Having worked in this organization for some time, I’ve developed a good understanding of what’s worth stressing about and what isn’t, and I can approach situations calmly. Being the go-to person in the office is a satisfying and fitting position for me and I try to create an environment where people know that they can come to me for just about anything.
“High performing teams essentially run on controlled chaos, and keeping up with it can be challenging for even the most experienced professional. Fortunately, Laura can not only see through this chaos but manages to thrive in it while helping our team deliver at a rate unprecedented for a department our size. Moreover, Laura continues to display a flexible approach to every endeavor and often anticipates needs well in advance of them being asked. Laura is more than an Office Ninja. She’s a warrior, a close confidant, and a part-time therapist. Pretty much the greatest asset a team could ever have!” – Stephen Clark, Business Development Manager
Laura’s coworkers secretly decorated her office for a fun surprise on her 40th birthday.
What do you do when you’re stressed or upset at work?
I listen to music — it calms me and centers me. And now that I’m in my own office, I play my music out loud! I’ll just be singing along to my 80s playlist and typing out emails.
Talking it out with a trusted co-worker is also really helpful. Getting guidance or even just another perspective on a tough situation is a great way to move past it more quickly.
How does your team help you succeed?
They make time to help others in their daily missions. Everyone is very encouraging and supportive — they understand that practicing good collaboration and taking time to teach is well worth the investment.
Laura brings an intelligent perspective to the table and offers common-sense solutions to keep the train on track and rolling in every situation. – Bruce Applebach, Operations Manager
Tell us about your relationship with your boss.
Alex [Peric, Vice President and COO] was a game-changer for my career. Before he came along, I felt like I was sort of stuck in a box. But Alex is an out-of-the-box thinker and he encourages me to break down those walls, too. His dedication and innovative vision challenges me in a way that has revitalized my passion for excelling in the workplace.
He’s also not shy with feedback. And while it isn’t always something I want to hear, he never makes me feel incompetent. He takes the time to teach me and help me build up my stamina to be a well-rounded EA.
Alex and [Business Development Manager] Stephen [Clark] also invite me to sit in on their meetings and calls so that I can expand my knowledge and skill set. In my entire career, this is the first time an exec has allowed me to be involved like this!
Alex truly leads from the front. He continues to pour his limited time and resources toward increasing not only my skills but our team’s, as we collectively respond to unprecedented growth and challenges on the micro and macro levels.
And while many look up to Alex for his steady, knowledge-driven approach, perhaps his most exceptional skill is his ability to share in our team’s successes with frequency and sincerity.
He expects greatness, and his leadership and work ethic make it easy to want to exceed that expectation.
I am incredibly proud to be a part of his team.
Being on the team of one of the fastest-growing airports in the United States is a privilege, but with it comes a responsibility to deliver at an extremely high level. Laura is often thrown into many projects with very little information. She manages not only to get up to speed quickly but leverages her vast knowledge of the airport’s internal workings to deliver when our team needs it most. – Alex Peric, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
The Business Development Department in its conception. Moe, Laura’s boss Alex, Laura, and Stephen.
Where does your drive come from?
My work ethic was instilled in me as a kid. My parents never called in sick, always gave 100%, and often worked seven days a week. This developed a sense of pride in me and laid the groundwork for my future employment. I knew I would have to work my whole life, so it was important to me to find something I enjoyed.
Organization and detail come very easy to me, and working in an office environment was always appealing. I loved working in the office while in school, being the teacher’s assistant, and doing as many administrative functions as I was allowed. Tasks themselves keep me motivated, because I’m the type of person who can’t leave something on my desk; if it needs my attention, I won’t rest until it’s complete. It also helps tremendously that I love what I do and who I do it for.
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How do you see the admin profession evolving? What do you do to stay ahead of the curve?
In my opinion, it’s the next generation of successful executives like my boss Alex, who really appreciate the Executive Assistant role. That said, I think the future is bright for admin support staff because those executives understand the value our profession provides the organization. In turn, they are willing to invest in our professional development, and unlock leadership opportunities.
Personally, I stay ahead of the curve by partaking in professional development, training on new software, and networking with groups like OfficeNinjas.
Laura’s role and function have grown both out of necessity with airport growth and leadership changes, and due to her initiative and willingness to champion different and larger projects. What began with filing and archiving projects, Laura’s role has transitioned to the coordination of a complex management team with many stakeholders and external parties. – Casey Ries, Engineering and Planning Director
Laura supports her co-EA at a Make-A-Wish Fundraising Event.
What is your greatest professional achievement?
The greatest achievement would be stepping into the Executive Assistant role.
Before Alex named me his EA, I served the majority of my career in the organization as an Administrative Specialist. Alex could’ve hired someone with prior EA experience, but he saw that with my years of experience, I was more than capable of doing the job. This new role came with a great deal of responsibility and trust. And it’s extremely important to me to maintain that quality of rapport with my boss and colleagues.
What are you most proud of outside of work?
My family. Staying engaged with my kids is very important to me and not always an easy task to accomplish, but I’m diligent and, so far, successful. I’m also the Team Manager for my son’s club soccer organization. My duties — keeping everyone informed and on task — mirror my duties at work. Watching my kids partake in something they love brings me great joy.
I also take pride in capturing my family’s silliness in pictures. Every Mother’s Day, we do family pictures. The kids are forced to participate, and my husband and I always find a way to make them laugh for the pictures. Those funny shots leave us with the memories of how much fun we ended up having that day.
The shores of Lake Michigan make for beautiful family pictures.
How do you balance work and personal life?
I make sure to remind myself to live in the moment. Your kids will eventually move out of your house and won’t want to spend time with you like they do now. I try not to take that for granted. Ever. I make family vacations a priority and make sure we spend as much time together as possible.
We make sure to do a “Destination Zoo” each summer. We take the kids on a vacation to a city and zoo we’ve never been to. We document the trip with pictures along the way and make a ton of memories while we’re at it. We love to reminisce together about our travels and the fun we had.
What did your kids think about your All-Star win?
They are 15-, 14-, 12-years-old, and they couldn’t be happier for me! They’re especially proud that I’m the first person in Michigan to win — they wanted to tell all of their friends immediately.
We had a great time together taking my picture for this article. They helped me prepare my letterboard, snapped photos, and, of course, had lots of fun teasing me throughout!
What would you say are the top 3 traits of an OfficeNinjas All-Star?
Efficiency, dependability, and trustworthiness.
What has been integral to your growth as an admin professional over the past 18 years?
I credit my supervisors for giving me the tools and opportunities for growth. They trusted me and gave me the support, encouragement, and room to evolve. They knew what I was capable of and challenged me to accept additional tasks that would enhance my knowledge, experience, and skills.
Event planning, for instance, was not part of my duties when I was hired, but it was something that quickly landed on my plate. Working with risk management is another example. I assist our properties team with what can seem like mundane, tracking tasks. But along the way, I acquire knowledge, elevating my contributions as more of a branch of the project.
Laura has a desire to see our organization improve daily. To that end, she researches (usually on her own time) different products and processes that may assist in that effort and is willing to bring them forth for consideration. – Tim Haizlip, Director of Maintenance
Laura and fellow employees show their airport pride.
Office Ninjas often have tips/tricks of the trade. Any you care to share?
Having a good memory is a fantastic start. But if you don’t, take good notes! Be timely, trustworthy and honest — always.
Speaking of note-taking… if it’s not common for you to be part of your executive’s meetings — ask if you can sit in the background and take notes. Your exclusion isn’t always intentional, and you can often glean valuable context by listening in.
You mentioned being shy. Can you give us an example of a time you had to put yourself out there and how you stepped out of your comfort zone?
I’m very shy in group settings unless I know everyone well. But at an awards gala where I was being honored, I knew I was representing my company and my shyness went to the wayside. I knew I had a job to do. I was motivated by the pride I have in my organization, my boss, and myself. I had no trouble speaking to people about my job or the organization.
Laura receiving the 2019 Best of MichBusiness Office Ninja Award.
When it was time to receive my award, my face reddened and the jitters kicked in. (I could trip on the stairs, the floor, the air! My dress could be tucked into my pantyhose. Do my shoes even match each other?) But the minute the announcer said my name, confidence kicked in and ushered me forward without incident. I was extremely proud to be an honoree but it was equally important to be able to represent my boss and organization proudly.
When a lifelong learner has encouraging colleagues and a supportive boss, anything is possible. Surround yourself with people who give you confidence (and the tools!) to push the boundaries of your role and grow your career.
We commissioned an artist to hand letter and digitize a powerful mantra from today’s All-Star interview.
Well-deserved Laura! Congratulations and a BIG Thank You!
I am struck by the array of options of Ford Airport garments! In that picture, everyone looks comfortable in their own personal style of clothing and all are representing their organization. That is so awesome.
Absolute great take-away Karen! Every article is selected by the individual to complement their style and comfort level. :)
A great person, a much deserved recognition, congrats Laura!
Thank you so much Casey! Thank you for helping make it possible! :)
Congratulations, Laura! Efficiency, dependability, and trustworthiness — definitely attributes to continually work on. Thanks for sharing your story.
Congratulations! Well deserved!
Congratulations! I love that you and your co-EA jumped in with your own phones with IT’s help to use it as a work-around for the phone issue..
Laura, you are AWESOME! Keep up the great work.
Congrats! Amazing story!
Congratulations, Laura! I love hearing about how much you’ve evolved in your role – not just professionally, but personally! Totally agree that having a great boss who sees your strengths and opens doors for opportunities is instrumental in how we can continue to build our career.
YES Helen! Those types of bosses are crucial in the ON evolvement, in my opinion.
Congratulations on your new job you go woman. we can do it to!
Love to win
Woo hoo! Congrats to you for a job well done
Congratulations, Laura! What a great share! I enjoyed that you credit your sups for giving you the tools and support to evolve as an EA! In my current gig, I’ve only had supportive managers and it’s such a game changer. I also like that you suggested to ask your exec to sit in his/her staff meetings. I do this and it’s a great way to learn about what’s going on, potentially foresee any needs that your exec may need, and to maybe even chime in (if you’re brave enough – gulp!). Congrats, again, Laura!
Yes Aisha! I’m happy you’ve been gifted with those great leaders! They are absolute game changers for our profession and it’s those types of individuals who make our job worth doing. Keep up your great work Aisha! :)
Beautiful family and amazing work in your career! Congrats!
Thank you Giselle! If interested, you can find some hilarious acts ensuing during family pics over the years, on my IG page.
Always a member of the lifelong learning club! Congrats on being an AllStar!
Congratulations Laura! I love hearing about another shy admin. I sometimes feel at odds with the profession because it feels as though all admins should be very type A and extroverted. I love your suggestion of sitting in on meetings to learn more. You’re right, sometimes it’s not that they don’t want you there, they just didn’t really think about it. What a great chance to learn!
You’re in good company Jaime. I bet more of us are introverts than we realize. Asking to be more a part of things is often daunting but so rewarding. And stepping out of your comfort zone is always an opportunity for growth. :)
Congrats Laura! Great that you were able to partner with a co-EA and succeed in the partnership.
Thanks for sharing all the tips and advice.
LAURA, Congratulations on being an All-Star. Your dedication and pride in your position shines through. Enjoy your win and I crank my 80s playlist too!
I’m so happy the dedication and pride show through! It was very important to me that they did. And 80’s music is always the answer! :) Rock on Julie!
I always find it magical when our office mates can surprise us with anything, since we know what’s up usually before they do. Love that they secretly decorated your office… Happy 40th!
:) Thank you Jenna!
I loved reading about your exec and his forward thinking approach. It reminds me of my relationship with my executive.
Awesome Myka! I love these relationships and the wonders they do for our OfficeNinja community. :)
I’m graces friend and she was excited to tell me and I was excited to read through this , this is pretty cool !
Thank you MacKenzie! :)
Congrats! Well done Laura!
Laura, you are a rock star! Keep inspiring :)
Congrats! That sit in on meetings is vital for me, I know exactly what the takeaways are, the next action steps, what needs to be followed up, etc.
Exactly Jamie! It helps keep you ‘in the know’ and so much more able to anticipate your exec’s needs. :)
Congratulations, Laura. It sounds like you have an amazing career and team!
Thank you Jessica! I’m very fortunate to have ‘landed’ where I have. I absolutely love my work and my team! :)
Thanks for sharing your story :) keep up the great work!
Laura is an all-star with a great work attitude and great support team. Congrats!
Thank you Melinda! Having a supportive team makes any job easier but especially a supporting role. :)
Congrats Laura! I’m shy myself and love how you were able to push past it.
Thank you Loren! You can too! Remember that whenever you are pushed outside your comfort zone, it’s an opportunity for growth and development. :) Best of luck to you…you’ve got this! :)
Congratulations – well deserved!!
Way to go!
Well deserved, Laura! Your transitions and progression within you role is truly inspiring. Congrats!
Thank you Ellen! The progression came with the years of experience but the transition came with the exec. I owe Alex an insurmountable load of gratitude for not only seeing my value but capitalizing on it to each of our benefit, all while being an innovator in the organization by doing so because his vision was unparalleled at the time. :)
Congratulations! I like your idea of sitting in on meetings and taking notes. It’s a good way to get a feel for the pulse.
Absolutely Kristi! It’s also a great way to anticipate the needs of your exec by getting a better picture of the project. :)
Congratulations Laura! I agree with you, having a supportive, mentoring leader makes all the difference.
It absolutely does Emma! In my case, it was “THE” difference. :)
Congratulations Laura! Music is my go to as well. So much so, that my colleagues actually notice when I’m not in the office because they have mentioned to me that they actually miss my smile and good vibes if I’m not in. Haha! Keep playing your jams; what you think is helping you is actually helping others as well! :)
Excellent point Monica! We Ninjas are so focused on taking care of the needs of others, we often don’t realize we are doing it without even trying. ;) Rock on, friend!
Congrats Laura! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences.
Congrats Laura! So happy for you!
Congratulations Laura from a fellow midwestern OfficeNinja and life long learner!
Congratulations Laura! Loved hearing about the supportive relationship with your Executive, so important. All the best, onward and upward!
#fellow Michigander #80’s music lover #lifelong learner
Yes Kathy! A fellow Michigander…love hearing from you! :) Rock on fellow 80’s music lover!
Thanks for encouraging us to do our best and sharing your secrets
Loved reading about your family and how you always value your time together outside of work. Congratulations, Laura!
Thank you Czarina! Head over to my IG page to see some humorous shots of family photos over the years. I love my family! <3 :)
So many talented folks sharing their knowledge and expertise Thanks!
Congratulations and well deserved!
Laura, Congratulations well deserved! You have a great team and Manager who support you fully.
Laura – you are a rock star! I totally agree about forming solid partnerships with co-admins. It truly makes what is already a hard job so much easier with people that are in the same boat and are able to help you get your work done quicker and more efficient that you would if you had to row the boat yourself!
I also agree with the fact that with time comes experience (years of experience not only in a job, but in a company or department). As you said, you’re able to better assess and prioritize where the “fires” are and not stress over things as much since you are a guru of all things that come your way – knowing not only HOW to do things, but where to go for resources (hello co-admins!) to get things done.
Again – way to rock it and congratulations!!
Congratulation, on your well deserved award
Congrats, Laura! So true how integral a personality mesh with your executive(s) can be to the success you see in the role.
It’s really fantastic when you’re boss/team includes you as a teammate and not just “support”. Having a seat at the table in meetings, calls etc really let’s an admin take their job to the next level. It gives them great insights and ability to understand priorities. This is truly the greatest gift, and it’s so easy to do. Congrats on your well deserved award!
JoAnn…you get it! Exactly! :)
Yay, a fellow Michigander! Congrats, Laura!
Hello from the West side of the Mitten, friend! :)
Excellent job!! Great values and advice!
Well done! Congrats to you!
Congratulations on your award, Laura. I, too, am a life-long learner and happy to be a part of that club with you. There is always something new to learn in our profession and industries.
Most definitely Andrea! Every single day presents us with an opportunity for a new take-away. It’s exciting. :)
Congrats, Laura! I found your story truly inspiring!
Thank you so much Robyn. :)
Hey Laura – Congratulations to you!! I too am a fellow Michigander (Detroit) and we are in the Construction industry. I have worked here for 18 years as the Chief Executive Assistant/Master Juggler to the CEO/Founder of our company. I love seeing the longevity of fellow peers. Not many do that. I worked in this same capacity for 21 yrs. for GE previously. You are a Rock Star! Stay Amazing!!
Congratulations to you as well Vicki! Hello from Grand Rapids! You’re absolutely correct in the fact that longevity within an organization is quickly becoming a thing of the past. The knowledge of these long-time employees adds tremendous value to the team.
Congratulations, Laura! Music also helps calm me, and I also turn it up and sing along when I am in my office with my door closed.
Congrats Laura! I love your advice on making sure to remind yourself to live in the moment. I think that’s so important these days with all of the tasks us admins are asked to do (at all hours of the day!).
Congratulations Laura! Loved reading your interview!
Congratulations Laura! Stepping out of the comfort zone is hard to do, way to go!
From a fellow Michigander to another – Congrats!! You have my dream job! Prior to my current position in the Construction Industry I had pursued a position in the Aviation Industry. My current employer provides me great flexibility (and with 3 elementary aged kids is a must!). The fact that you get to do BOTH is super awesome!! I loved reading your story – and aspire to grow professionally as you have!
Hello from Grand Rapids Theresa! I’m honored to represent your dream job! I’m happy you’ve been given fantastic flexibility from your company. It certainly helps a busy mother. Continue to be amazing and remember to live in the moment with those kiddos! :)
Kudos to Laura! Very motivating interview to read.
Congratulations! Music definitely helps keep me motivated through the day too.
Loved reading your story, Laura! You are definitely an all-star! 🌟
Way to go!
Congratulations Laura! I appreciated your long honed work ethics and strive to instill that in my kids as well as the younger workforce coming through the pipes.
Thank you Marie! Those traits are absolutely essential in any career and I’m grateful my parents were super examples of this for me. :)
Congrats! Such quick thinking to use your personal phones to save the day when the phone system went down. The greatest take-a-way is that we have to think on our feet and be flexible in our roles. We are resilient!
Congratulations Laura. I live in Michigan and love your beautiful airport!
Hi Sandy! Thank you for saying so and thank you for using our airport! :)
Congratulations Laura! You deserve this!!
Way to go!! Happy Admins Day!!
I adore your story Laura. Thanks so much for sharing your world with us!
Thank you Megan! If interested in more of my personal world…stop by my IG page for outtakes from family pics over the years. lol ;)
Congratulations, Laura! Well deserved recognition for a job and career that you are proud of!
LOL -my take away is how serious your husband looks in the picture while the rest of you are smiling.
Thanks Dianne! My husband rarely smiles for pictures but we are able to capture the elusive grin sometimes. I wanted to post additional pics here but couldn’t. We have to settle for my Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/laura_feigel/
Great Job Laura! Looks like you have a good team and also a beautiful family.
I am so happy for you, Laura! You are truly deserving.
Thank you Blaire! I look forward to celebrating with you at an upcoming Admingling event! :)
Way to keep growing and evolving!
Congratulations, Laura. Your work over the last 18 years are quite the accomplishment.
Way to go Laura!!! What a great article, thanks for sharing!
Congrats! I love that despite your shyness you pulled it together and did what you had to do!
Thank you Christian! It was a very powerful moment and taught me a little about myself. I was both astonished and impressed by my 180 in the jitters department. :)
Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your experience.
Congratulations, Laura!! You deserve it!
I hope everyone was extra spoiled yesterday! I sure was even though we weren’t in the office, the goodies came to my house!
Congratulations! I love the call-out that the administrative professional will need the next generation of executive leaders that envision our role as a partner.
Thank you Natalie! It’s absolutely imperative that the execs truly realize the value the support role brings them. It should definitely be a class offering in graduate school or something. ;)
Congratulations! I think it’s wonderful that you have so much support.
Congratulations to you! I was happy to read your story and it sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with teammates and Executives.
Congrats Laura!! Welcome to the All-star Crew!
Thank you Nicki! So happy and honored to be among you! :)
Well done, Laura! 18 years at one company is an amazing achievement within itself! The support and excitement from your kids is adorable, and I love that loud 80’s music helps you release stress – hah! Congratulations on joining the All-Star ranks!
Thank you Trish! Same to you my friend! :) 80’s music is the only way! :)
Congratulations, Laura! I love that you and your family take the time to go to a zoo every summer and you listen to music to get your mindset right :) Music soothes the soul! You are a wonderful example of an OfficeNinja!
Thank you Corina and same to you friend! The annual zoo trips are so much fun and I’m so glad we started that tradition. I hope to continue it long into the future, as our family expands someday…some very far from now, day. ;)
What an amazing story! Such an inspiration!!
Congratulations Laura! Having the support and confidence of those you support is crucial to success.
Thank you Becky! You’re right…that support and confidence (or lack thereof) will make or break a team.
Congratulations Laura, well deserved.
Way to go Laura! #80smusicftw :)
Efficient, dependable, and trustworthy – by this article that would be you Laura. Congratulations OfficeNinja.
Congratulations – and don’t ever let shyness stop you. You are amazing!!! Own it!
Congratulations, Laura! What an honor!
Congrats, Laura! And 80s music is always the answer, lol.
Thank you Cherie! Yes, 80’s music is ALWAYS the answer! Can’t stop, won’t stop!
Good morning everyone, happy Admin Week!
So sweet that your kids got to share in this experience with you! Congratulations!
:) Thanks Taylor! I try to include them in as much as possible…across the board. It helps us stay connected.
Congrats from Lansing, MI :)
Thank you Angela..and hello from Grand Rapids! :)
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