Cornell University - Anthropology
Lauren Hefferon might have one of our favorite job titles yet: director and CEB — chief executive biker.
An avid cyclist from a very young age, Lauren knew she wanted bicycling to be at the center of her life, but wasn't sure how to make a career of it. After graduating in anthropology from Cornell, she embarked on a three-month, 35,000 mile bike tour of Europe and then began living in Florence, Italy. There, after leading a few bicycle tours and studying the bicycle touring industry, she realized no cycling company specialized in Italy. Ciclismo Clasico — and that awesome job title of hers — was born.
Lauren drives all visionary aspects of Ciclismo Classico, from itinerary design and tour leader training to marketing and company strategy. Her trips have won “trip of the year” awards from National Geographic Traveler and Outside magazine. But best of all, Lauren says her passion and her work are one and the same.
My pedaling passion just kept spinning out of control!
What drew you to your job?
My lifelong passion for cycling and a commitment to doing something different that combined all of my passions -- cycling, photography, writing, people and travel -- drew me into the sport. I became passionate about cycling at a very young age. For me, it was my way to travel beyond the confines of home and friends, allowing me to explore the area where I grew up. My pedaling passion just kept spinning out of control!
By the time I got to college, I was leading bicycle tours for incoming freshman as a part of our Cornell Outdoor Education program. I became curious about outdoor education as a career path, but also decided that no matter what I did, I wanted bicycling to be at the hub. Post college, I embarked on a three-month bike tour of Europe and then began living in Florence, Italy. After leading a few bicycle tours and studying the bicycle touring industry, I realized that no company specialized in Italy. There was the perfect opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond.
What does your job involve on a daily basis, and what types of responsibilities do you have in your position?
My main role is to manage the overall operations in the United States with a specialty in marketing, company strategy, business development and new trip development.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I enjoy solving big problems. Creating something new, taking pictures of our tours and interacting with our guests is my favorite aspect of what I do.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
People and financial issues. As far as people go, I worry about doing and saying the right thing. Management does not come naturally to me and it requires a certain kind of patience and process that challenges me. When I make a management mistake or I struggle about a management decision, it weighs heavily on my mind. As far as finance goes, well, I have a healthy paranoia and worry about aspects of the business that may not allow us the margins we need to have a profit.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
I exercise for two hours every day. I walk, bike, do yoga or ski. This is my health plan and my de-stresser. It helps me deal with my very busy life as an entrepreneur and mom of three kids. I also have many mentors and friends who I talk to that help keep me pumped and advise me on doing the right thing. I also try not to over-schedule my life. Finally, ever since I started the business, it's been located in my home or across the street. I don't have to commute or deal with traffic to get to work -- all three of which are huge stressors!
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I can't believe I have this job?" What was it?
I can believe I have the job. It's completely aligned with who I am. I do, however, have to always remind myself of how blessed I am to have this job.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Daily fitness. Honesty and transparency as much as possible. Choose happiness over being right. Trust and assume good intentions. Regular escapes beyond my comfort zone. Travel, travel, travel as much as possible. Don’t take myself too seriously. Share. Always be curious. Try new things. And stay energized.
What qualities does one need to possess to be successful in your line of work?
You need a passion for what you do; ability to trust, delegate, hire and keep a strong team in place; strong and well-rounded skills in sales, marketing, IT, creative, management, leadership, finance and people skills; and finally, energy!
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Take a year of finance. Know your numbers. There are lots of numbers in this business. Learn as much as you can about areas of business you do not like.