Valuing Life’s Unexpected Course

PROVO, Utah – May 09, 2018 – For fourteen years BYU Marriott MBA alum Curtis LaClaire worked for Honeywell International in a variety of job functions and industries, including his most recent role as an executive of human resources. Just last year, LaClaire left his Honeywell family to become the chief human resource officer at Foster Farms. Though HR leadership seems to be in his blood, LaClaire did not grow up thinking that HR was his future. For him, it was life’s natural yet unexpected course that brought him to where he is today.

“My parents, Curt and Sandy LaClaire, made significant sacrifices to have a large family and helped us to know what was important in life. They taught us how to love and serve others. My dad was a carpet layer, and as the oldest of six boys and the second oldest of nine kids, I started laying carpet at age ten,” LaClaire says. “It was fantastic. I learned the value of family and hard work at a young age.”

After high school graduation, LaClaire rolled up his sleeves and continued his hard work.

“I couldn’t afford to go to college or serve a mission right out of high school, so I worked for about a year until I saved up enough money to go on a mission,” LaClaire says.

LaClaire served in Recife, Brazil, and it was on his mission when he started to understand that value of an advanced degree and pursuing higher education.

“My mission president, Greg Gollaher, was a MBA graduate and had served as an executive for Ford Motor Company,” LaClaire says. “He was influential and encouraging with my decisions about education.”

When LaClaire returned home to Minneapolis, Minnesota, he worked for a few months until he had enough money for school and then moved out west to Rexburg, Idaho, to study economics at BYU-Idaho. During this time LaClaire met and fell in love with his wife, Becky.

“She was studying to be a dental hygienist and got accepted into a good program in Pocatello,” LaClaire says. “I figured I could study economics anywhere, so I followed her and transferred to Idaho State University.”

Idaho State’s economics program was an enriching experience for LaClaire, one that set him up for success at BYU Marriott.

“During my undergraduate career, I realized that advocacy is a strength of mine,” LaClaire says. “I wanted to find a graduate program that would marry the MBA and JD together, and I found BYU.”

LaClaire started his MBA and JD at BYU with the intent of practicing law. The first two summers of his schooling were spent working for law firms. However, as a third-year student, LaClaire’s path started to shift.

“I had the unique opportunity to intern for Honeywell during my third summer at BYU,” LaClaire says. “This experience was very different from the law firm experience. I enjoyed the autonomy, the diversity of work, and the ability I had to make an instant impact. This experience initiated my career in business, and I haven’t ever looked back.”

Though he did not end up becoming an attorney, LaClaire admits that his law school education and training helps him make sound business and legal decisions every day as a HR executive.

After graduating in 2004, LaClaire started at Honeywell—an experience that has impacted LaClaire, his wife, and their six children. The entire family put on their ‘Honeywell Hats’ when LaClaire started working there—it has been an experience that has allowed the family to experience a variety of places.

For example, the LaClaire family actually lived in London, England, for a time, because of Honeywell. While these experiences have been positive, it has also taught LaClaire much about living in harmony with family and work demands.

“This is a frequent concern among college students that we recruit,” LaClaire says. “I always tells them that work exists, but we work for the benefit of our families and the opportunity to grow as families. I also tell them that no matter where they work, they have complete control over their time. The trick is to use that time efficiently.”

For LaClaire, this means not taking extended business trips and being home for family dinner. As the newly appointed chief human resource officer of Foster Farms, this is something that LaClaire will continue to do. 

Curtis LaClaire
Curtis LaClaire graduated with his MBA while also earning a JD from BYU Law School
LaClaire Family
LaClaire with his wife, Becky, and their children

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Kelly Brunken