Heather Ludwig: A Coach to Many and Supporter of Her Campus MNSU

Heather has been an avid support system in helping our Her Campus chapter become the success that it is today. From doing training sessions in chapter meetings and the Women's Empowerment Conference to donating books to all members and giving our leaders the resources and guidance they need to effectively run the chapter, it's safe to say the chapter wouldn't be the same without her help. 

Her Campus: Tell me about your career path and how did you get where you are today.

Heather Ludwig: When I was attending MNSU, Mankato, I had a summer job in a human resources department. This was my first exposure to this type of work. I went back to college and declared my major in Management with an emphasis in HR graduating with my Bachelor of Science degree. I then attended the University of MN Carlson School of Business for my Master Degree in HR. I had four internships throughout college in both public and private sector to check out different types of HR and see different organizations. This helped me land my first big job with The Dow Chemical Company in a human resources development program. I spent 6 years with Dow in various HR Specialist and Generalist roles. Then, I was recruited to join GE as a manufacturing plant HR Manager. Then on to Health Partners as the Compensation Manager. And finally, to GMAC RFC as an HR Manager and then the Learning & Development Manager. When GMAC downsized in 2008, I launched my own business to help others learn and grow in their careers.

HC: How have you seen Ludwig Coaching grow since you started it? Where do you see it going in the future?

HL: When I first started my company, I chose a pretty narrow target audience. I have discovered over the years my skills serve a broader market with a more specialized focus. I’ve grown in revenue, reputation and specialty knowledge. This has helped me reach the broader career market. For the future, I see my clients being more virtual with me and having access to more of my resources between coaching sessions. I also see my team based work growing with managers and teams looking for opportunities to learn to work together more effectively.

HC: What is one thing you have learned from/about owning a business?

HL: As a solopreneur, I’ve learned when I’m not focusing on my business, I’m not growing my business. It’s taken the time to get my support and referral network in place. Without these people, it’s really tough to be successful alone. I’ve also learned to give myself credit when credit is due! It’s too easy to skip past the reflect, learn and celebrate on to the new clients. The “pause” time makes me better each time I coach!

HC: What is your favorite part about what you do?

HL: Seeing my clients learn and grow….Seeing them launch their career plan….Ultimately, see them move to their desired job!

HC: If you could give advice to a student entrepreneur, what would it be?

HC: Be prepared to not know it all and to seek help with others who know more than you at that stage of your career! Yes, it’s humbling. But it’s so much more rewarding to learn and do than to sit and wonder what to do.

HC: What is your perception of millennials in the business world and how can they improve the way people see them?

HL: My perception of millennials in business is they want flexibility to live the life they want to live…which can be seen by others as not being interested in working full-time, they believe they are prepared to take on anything even when they haven’t had solid working experiences, they have tons of good ideas, they have lots of energy, they have difficulty thinking on their feet and solving issues….seen by others as not having critical thinking skills, and they are really good with technology.

My recommendation for millennials is to keep up the energy and enthusiasm! It’s very refreshing and exciting to work with you! Be sure to present your ideas with some context. For example, I have a new idea about how we can do this process differently and I checked into what we’ve done in the past so I think this idea is building on what we used to do. Practice thinking on your feet by taking on speaking opportunities, leadership opportunities and being involved in projects that require collaborative work. Know that you’ll want to gain experiences on your career path up to bigger and more challenging work experiences. Don’t just try to jump to the top job; a journey (whether short or long) will bring you experiences that allow you to grow and learn so you can be even more effective. Look for companies and industries and jobs that match the life/work flexibility you want.

Ultimately, be willing and able to have good conversations with people across generations. Help people understand more about who you are as an individual and not just a “millennial”. Be curious about the people you meet so you can learn more about them as an individual…not just that they are from an “older generation”.

HC: Tell me about your passions and hobbies.

HL: I love to read, especially mystery novels and adventure novels. I also really enjoy mentoring college students. It so fun to learn from them and to pay-it-forward from my experiences in my career. I’m learning about gardening, which has been fun to see all the flowers grow and my vegetables ripen. I’m learning there’s nothing better than a home-grown tomato and fresh salsa!

HC: What is a quote that you live by and how have you used it to motivate yourself to success?

HL: “Leave things better than I found them” I use this quote so I focus on helping others or situations based on what is needed. It motivates me to be my best so that I can service others in the best way possible for them.

HC: What is one unique thing that many people don’t know about you?

HL: I’m a middle child and have 5 brothers, all with different professions and personalities. This has helped me learn the meaning of respect in a whole different way.

HC: What is your favorite dish to make?

HL: Chicken & Vegetable soup! I usually start with the same basic ingredients, and then I use up extra grains, beans, and veggies, so it turns out a little different each time, but is always a great healthy comfort food.

HC: Where is the most unique/favorite place you have traveled to?

HL: This is a tough question for me. I have visited so many wonderful places and have a lot of favorites. I think the place I could go back to over and over again is Hawaii. It’s so beautiful, relaxing and has different scenery and activities across the different islands.