Get to Know Noodle’s Solutions Coordinator, Laura Moreno.
A great leader is one who is able to hold the end vision in mind and is able to guide their team towards it.
Laura Moreno is Noodle’s Solutions Coordinator. Her family is originally from Mexico and she grew up as a first-generation Mexican American in Napa Valley, California. She completed both her undergraduate studies and MBA at Quinnipiac University. She recalls making education the focus of her work during her first job out of college as an admissions counselor. During that time she spoke with first-generation college students and their families about the value of education, but specifically how to make higher education accessible to people of all backgrounds. She now continues that work here at Noodle by supporting the Solutions Team: slowing down while problem solving, actively listening to her team and striving to learn something new daily.
What elements or traits does a great leader exhibit?
A great leader is one who is able to keep the vision in mind and is able to guide their team towards it. They are someone who encourages their team to try new things and not be afraid of failure. Most importantly they are engaged and active listeners.
When you think of great leadership, who comes to mind? Why?
When I think of great leadership I immediately think of the sports coaches I’ve had throughout my life. Especially my high school Lacrosse coach. In our first season as an official team, we had been working tirelessly in preparation for our first game. As we got closer to the game my whole team seemed to grow nervous. The energy was palpable. I have a specific memory of the pep talk that our coach gave us all right before the game. She said that she did not expect us to win every game, her only expectation was that we continue to improve over time and learn from our mistakes. This somehow lifted a lot of the pressure we were all feeling. Because we all knew that no matter the outcome, we were learning and getting better— both as a team and individually. Even during the time when we were winning as a team, we were never idle. Instead we tried new things, made new plays, and practiced our skills that needed work. We constantly tried to be better from one day to the next and supported each other. That is something that I carry with me to this day.
How has your personal leadership style evolved?
I think the simplest way my leadership style has evolved is by learning to slow down. I always thought that the best leaders were the ones that always had the answers at hand and that is what I tried to emulate. As I’ve grown as a leader I have learned that it is more important to slow down, take in all sides of a problem and try to understand things before offering solutions. I have found through this approach I can come up with more creative solutions and that my team trusts my leadership more because they can see the time and effort that goes into it.
What is it about your background or career experiences that successfully positioned you for your role at Noodle? Describe that role.
Starting out as an admissions counselor I had the chance to understand the admissions process from beginning to end. From applications to decisions to all the questions that come up for potential students along the way. Over time I began to take on more technical projects as there was a need to streamline many of the daily tasks that my role entailed. It was through these projects that I became introduced to various Student Information Systems (SIS). I became interested in the puzzle building and solving that goes into making sure these systems run smoothly. I soon realized that the puzzle solving and critical thinking aspect that I so enjoyed about SIS was also applicable to many other systems. Those are the exact things that I get to work on every day as a Solutions Coordinator here at Noodle.
How do you support the success of your team?
I support my team through constantly making an effort to do three things: Share, Support, and have a student mentality. The sharing of information is so critical to every team. This goes beyond what is going on in our regular workflow. It is more about being willing to share our successes as well as our failures. I always make an effort to share when I am working on something that I have not encountered before or that I think would be of use to my team members. I also make an effort to demonstrate when things have not quite gone to plan, a mistake has been made or if I need help with something. It is through doing these things that the team’s knowledge continues to grow daily.
Support is important on several fronts. Offering a second pair of eyes on a project or offering to be a thought partner when someone is working on something particularly challenging. These have both been valuable ways to support my team members.Lastly, having a student mentality is something that I strive to do everyday. Going into every situation with the mindset that I may have something to learn and the willingness to ask questions opens the doors for others to do the same.
Describe how your career has been enhanced by exposure to diverse people, places or experiences.
The exposure that I’ve had to diverse people has had a tremendous effect on my career. The largest impact has been in my openness to new ideas and ways of thinking. Having lived abroad and worked with people from all over the world. I have come to understand that having different ways of doing things and diversity of thought should be the norm— not the exception. In the end all of these experiences are what make us stronger as people and as teams.
What are some of the most effective tools in your leadership arsenal?
The ability to be an active listener is definitely my strongest leadership skill. I’ve found that people sometimes hear what they want to hear or are just waiting for their turn to speak. In either case, these things are not effective. I always make an effort to actually listen to what others are saying before responding.
Please tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to learn.
I love making my own textiles! I grew up crocheting and knitting and it has become one of my favorite ways to decompress. I have made everything from sweaters, to hats, to blankets and more. This year my goal is to make my first pair of socks!