President and CEO, IBF, A Safeguard Company, Boise, Idaho; president, PSDA, Chicago
Years of experience: 24
An Average Day: In a conversation with Print+Promo, McLaughlin explained in detail her standard work day. Deeply involved in the running of the company, she manages everything from the sales staff to product-stock levels of the business.
How she got her start: I graduated from Boise State University in 1990 with a BFA in advertising design. I was working at a photography studio during my final year of college and the year after. My mom was a client of IBF's, and one day a salesperson for IBF came in to show her a proof. This was back in the days of paste-up and layout. He was describing the process to her since the proof was late, and she mentioned that she knew what he was explaining. He asked her how? She replied that her daughter (me) had a degree in graphics and did quite a bit of work like this. The salesperson gave my mom his card and told me to call IBF. They needed help in the graphics department. I called him and we talked for an hour. He arranged an interview with the general manager for me. I interviewed with her for two hours. The general manager arranged an interview with the owner of IBF. I came in, talked with him for five minutes and he offered me the job. The rest is history.
Her advice to women just starting out in the industry: Get involved in an association that can help you learn the industry and provide networking opportunities. I would also counsel them to always have an open mind, actively demonstrate a willingness to learn and take on new opportunities, and find a mentor or two that can offer professional advice.