Laura Fulton

This entry is part 23 of 54 in the series

Laura FultonLaura Fulton

Hy-Vee, Inc.
Assistant Vice President, Operations – East Central District 

Years with company: 30 years



Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations:

  • Graduate Fairfield High School, Fairfield, IA
  • Graduate, Dale Carnegie
  • Graduate, Chicago Booth Executive Institute
  • Named one of Progressive Grocer’s “Top Women in Grocery,” 2011
  • Hy-Vee Hall of Fame, “Officer of the Year,” 2009
  • Volunteer, Hy-Vee Triathlon
  • Volunteer, Exercising Your Character
  • Hy-Vee Honor Flight Coordinator

Mentors and how they have assisted you in your career:
I have had so many mentors during my Hy-Vee career that to mention them all would require more space than I have available here. Jeff Swartzendruber, now retired from Hy-Vee, showed faith in me at the outset of my career and encouraged me to explore opportunities with Hy-Vee. Jeff Eslick, store director at Liberty Hy-Vee, provided valuable hands-on training. My current supervisor, Tom Watson, provides encouragement every day. He has taught me a great deal about self-motivation and being assertive and confident while remaining humble.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have a defining moment of your career to date?
I am most proud of my accomplishments in team-building, both as a store director and now as an assistant vice president of operations responsible for overseeing many stores. For any store or group of stores to succeed, the individuals have to work together as one team with shared goals. As a leader, I am responsible for communicating the vision of where we want to go, then motivating and encouraging employees to make that vision a reality. I want each person to understand the important role he or she plays in our shared success.

I am also proud of my efforts in coordinating Hy-Vee’s first Honor Flights for World War II veterans. This program has made it possible for thousands of veterans to travel to Washington, D.C., to see the monuments built in their honor. The Honor Flight program we built in central Iowa has been copied throughout the state and elsewhere in the nation.

Although we don’t do our jobs for recognition, it is gratifying to be recognized by your company, your industry and your peers. My election to Hy-Vee’s Hall of Fame as “Officer of the Year” is one highlight of my career.

Most challenging part of your job:
The most challenging part of my job is keeping it fresh. We are constantly looking for creative ways to serve customers, increase sales and profit, reduce expenses and inspire employees to achieve more. In retail, you can’t rely on what you did last month or last year – you have to keep setting new goals and introducing new products and services to retain existing customers and attract new ones. You must think outside the box and be willing to take a few risks in order to reap the rewards.

Advice for upcoming younger executives:
Be self-motivated. Set goals for yourself and then put together a plan to achieve them. Keep driving yourself to improve both personally and professionally. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and never settle for second place.

When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, golfing and exercising.