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All of my teams focus on people

More than most she is a people person. Laura Hood is Chief Administrative officer at Mastercam and her most prioritized mission is to empower and motivate her team members.

Laura Hood finds being someone’s manager a huge responsibility. In her view, the hardest part is to acknowledge every unique person and to align them around the same goals.

“My role is to make things happen and that’s not about what I myself am producing. It’s about what my teams are able to produce with my guidance and collaboration,” she says.

Laura Hood oversees the HR team as well as Legal, Administrative Services and Scrum – the agile facilitators working with the human aspects in the technical product development teams.

Understanding different personalities and work styles is an important part of team development, but mostly it’s about building relationships, talking, and tossing ideas around, weighing pros and cons. “I want to figure out what makes people just as engaged and happy at work as I am, and as a leader I still struggle if I can sense discontent,” she says. “All of my teams focus on people and the processes and systems we use to cultivate healthy, engaged employees.”

Mastercam develops software and provides the most widely used Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software in the world. In 2021 the company was purchased by Sandvik to add digital technologies to the Group’s manufacturing ecosystem. From a cultural aspect she says this was a rather seamless transition.

“The cultures of Mastercam and Sandvik are so well aligned. Both cultures treat people with respect, and foster growth and excellence.”

When Laura joined Mastercam in 2014 she was instantly drawn to the authenticity of the company’s leadership and genuine care for people.

“I did not plan on taking a leadership role, but I cared so deeply about Mastercam’s success that when I was given an opportunity to join the leadership team, I was thrilled,” she says.

Working with people is what she loves most about the job, and engaging with Mastercam’s approximately 260 employees.

Jason Chateauneuf, Director of Human Resources, is one of the people she interacts with the most. To him, a good leader is someone who aims to understand the whole picture before a decision is taken and who is receptive and open to change.

“Both these qualities seem to be a genetic trait of Laura’s. She is one of the first managers I have had that truly takes the time to seek to understand everyone’s perspectives and doesn’t come into the conversation with an answer first,” says Jason.

In his experience many leaders tend to get caught up in the moment, which means they only solve the imminent crisis. Having the full perspective is something he would like to see others learning from Laura.

“We support the human side of the organization and it’s a journey of constant learning. Laura’s way of being open to knowledge and new perspectives is a natural way to force change and improvement,” says Chateauneuf.

Laura recognizes herself in that description.

“But I don’t need to know everything before a decision is taken. I need to converse to understand where it’s coming from, which means that I will slow down the progress to make sure I understand it before anything moves forward. That comes from wanting to authentically advocate for my teams and be able to support anything my teams do,” she says, taking the opportunity to boast a bit: “The teams I have constantly rate the highest in engagement scores and their retention is amazing. We have had good internal growth in the administration area, and I am very fortunate to see my employees moving up in the organization.”

Jason Chateaunef’s many years of experience in HR have taught him that Laura’s leadership style leads her to the right decisions. But, of course, there are challenges as well.

“She is such a caring individual, and her enthusiasm always starts with the employee. That is tough as an executive, because at the end there will always be decisions that might impact a single individual negatively. I think Laura is still working through that,” he says.

To improve her own leadership skills, Laura is presently attending evening classes in leadership and organizational studies, and she always keeps books on leadership close at hand. Other learnings come from her own experience – like the boss that told her she had to learn to see around corners.

“He described it with this visual of a sci-fi movie where a guy runs off a cliff and the floor automatically appear beneath him. My boss told me that I needed to be that floor – be there for my teams and to anticipate the next thing waiting around the corner, and this is what I try to do.”

Curious about Mastercam? Explore further by visiting Mastercams website.

Laura Hood 

Chief Administrative Officer at Mastercam

Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts

9 years

Husband, who is a Master Sergeant with the U.S. Army, which means they live on a military base with their three daughters (six-year-old twins and a nine-year-old)

Favourite hobby:
Beach trips in the more than 20-year-old recreational vehicle (RV) that she recently renovated back to its former glory
Secret superpower: Connecting with people

3 Quick Questions

What are the most important skills in a leader?
Self-awareness, compassion, open mindedness, and dependability.

What is most important for you in your leadership?
That I am fostering collaboration and open mindedness and always remain approachable and thoughtful.

How does your team deliver on top?
By leveraging each other’s strengths. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and we lean on each other so that each person can perform their best in the area they excel in.

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