Laure Aubuchon ’64
Laverack Award Ceremony, June 7, 2005
Laure C. Aubuchon, is Senior Vice President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) where she is responsible for New York City ’s international business development efforts.
Prior to joining EDC, Laure worked in the private sector in a variety of international assignments. She began her career at W. R. Grace where she served as an assistant to the chairman, J. Peter Grace, was Director of Business Development in Hong Kong for the Specialty Chemicals Group and Vice President – International Sales and Marketing for Baker & Taylor, the company’s wholesale book division. Recently she was Director of Sales and Marketing for Ernst & Young International’s Tax and Legal Services practices.
Laure serves on the Boards of Trustees of Assumption College; the YWCA of the City of New York where she chairs the Investment Committee; and the Board of the Malta House of Good Counsel in Norwalk, CT a home for women and children in need. She is a Dame of Malta in the American Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta where she is on the Medical Committee for the annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, France an effort she has made nine times.
- She is a director of the W.E. Aubuchon Co., Inc., in Westminster, MA.
- A graduate of SmithCollege, she received her MBA from Harvard University.
Laure’s remarks at the ceremony:
“Thank you John (Chittick) for your comments. I want to thank some special people for being here – my wonderful parents – Bill and Camille Aubuchon, siblings, Mariette, Anne Celeste and Donat and two of my nephews who went to Applewild are here as well. There is one person I want to especially recognize, Shirley Pick. Not only did Dr. Pick, her husband, make sure all of us Aubuchon children survived childhood but Jeff Pick, their second son, was in my class here. Jeff, Jim Asher and I co-edited the yearbook. We were our own unique Mod Squad. Jeff lost a valiant battle to cancer when he was way too young, and I want to thank her in a special way for being here.
I would like to offer as a test of the impact a school has had on you as to how many teachers/professors you can remember, by name, and subject. I posed this test to myself after knowing I would be here today. Remarkably, as the names of Mr. Hunt, Mr. West, Mrs. Doe, Mr. Stewart, Mr. Converse, Mrs. Stergiois and of course Mr. Laverack came flooding back, not only remembering them but such memorable events as the fabled over night train trip to Washington that Mr. Stewart, here today, took us 7th graders on – helping to ignite what, those who know me will say is a life long passion for politics and government. Or Mr. Hunt who made science both fun and more importantly, a wonderment. Mr. West, whose passion for all things literary is still with me today. While I never had Mr. Laverack in class, I can still see myself in the “Bath Tub,” long gone, trying to be taught how to sail over a high hurdle. A feat that was never going to happen, certainly with any regularity.
But this incredible group of teachers, who loved teaching, was brought together by Bill Laverack and given the leadership and inspiration to make such an impression on me, and I know, countless others. Clearly Applwild passed my self-imposed test with flying colors.
I have two thoughts to share, one to the adults in the group and the other to the students.
To the adults I stand here as testament that your children will continue to confound you. When I was very young I know my parents wondered if I might ever leave home. When I started kindergarten, my mother would have to physically put me on the bus only to have me run to the window and look out at her with tears steaming down my face. I clearly had a terrible case of separation anxiety. Yet of their five children I was the one to move to Hong Kong to work for 3 ½ years and the one who spends her life on airplanes traveling the world as part of her job.
Later on, with two years into a doctoral program in psychology, and after an undergraduate degree in psyche, I announced to my parents that I wanted to apply to business school – this was in 1974, the height of the Vietnam War when business was not a popular career choice. At that point my parents, having wondered if I would ever leave home were now wondering if I would ever leave school. Next year I will be returning to Harvard for my 30th reunion, and HBS was the last school I attended.
To the students here, I will tell you that there are three parts of character that I believe any person needs to succeed in this world. They will not be given to you nor will they just appear. You should start now to “exercise” each for the times you will be called on to use them in ways you cannot even begin to imagine.
The first is Persistence – These are your legs if you will. How, in the words of Winston Churchill, do you never, never, never give up. Perhaps you give your homework ten more minutes when you really want to stop, or you run an extra 100 yards in gym class when you are very tired, you spend a few more minutes talking to a friend who is having a tough time. Every time you want to stop, when you know you should give it a bit more, you do.
As you build those muscles of persistence you will find that you are still in whatever race you find yourself when others have dropped out. Early in my business life I had the good fortune to work for Peter Grace, the then Chairman of W. R. Grace, as one of his three assistants. At 10 o’clock one evening, after having worked on business plans for two and a half months, seven days a week, he gave the three of us what was clearly four to five hours of work and said he would be back in at 7:00 am to check it. We must have really looked down in the dumps because as he was leaving, he turned to us and said “You know kids, there is a saying in the West by the men who drive cattle to market – You can go a long way after your tired.” It is that persistence and that idea that has kept me going many times when I wanted to stop, or worse yet, to give up.
The second is Courage – This I like to think of as your brain because more often than not, it requires a deliberate decision to stand up for something that you know to be unpopular, to support someone who is out in front and alone in a cause, or to fight a battle with few supporters. While you often have others with you when you are persistent, you are often alone when courage is required.
It might not always be cool to stand up for a friend here at school who might be misunderstood or treated unfairly, but if that is difficult now, think how impossible it be then later on to stand up for a work colleague, or a member of the community if you haven’t exercised that courage muscle often. And why is it so hard – because we all want people to like us and standing up for a person or cause can make us very unpopular. But think about stories of soldiers in difficult battles, people fighting for civil rights, or grown ups that you know and admire who champion a cause. I never knew of one who suddenly became that way as an adult – you will hear repeatedly – “that even as a child he or she was always supporting other people or what was right.” Courage begins very early.
The third and final one is Compassion – This character trait is clearly your heart, because it doesn’t always need an explanation or a reason. It is what keeps the world in balance. A wise friend of mine once said that it was impossible to payback all those who had been good to you so you needed to help others, many of whom you might never know personally.
Compassion is when you give something to someone without any expectation of anything in return. Sounds nice but it isn’t always easy – why – people aren’t always lovable, accepting of help or appear the least bit grateful. So again, I don’t believe people wake up at forty to say the “time to give back.” So start now, help that person across the street, give up an allowance to a person or cause that might need it. It is the most important character muscle you will ever develop.
I want to come back to the adults here to close the loop. The two people in my life who taught me very early on about the importance of these character traits are my parents. They lived them and continue to live them every single day. I also want to give credit to the faculty at Applewild, headed by Bill Laverack, who also helped to begin my character exercise program. While I believe that ultimately we are the masters of our own fate, it sure does help if those around us are walking the talk.
It is a great honor for me to receive the Laverack Award. Rarely does one have the opportunity to thank people who were part of the journey that brought you to where you are today. I am profoundly grateful for all that I learned at Applewild both inside and outside the classroom.”