Alumni Spotlight: Lauren Weigel ’08 ’09
Lauren Weigel is currently the Vice President and General Manager of Direct-to-Consumer business at Broan-NuTone, a company that designs and distributes residential ventilation products that enhance indoor air quality.
A graduate of Auburn’s School of Industrial and Graphic Design (SIGD), Weigel has 15 years of industry experience, including the last seven years at Broan-NuTone.
Weigel earned a bachelor’s degree from SIGD in 2008 and stayed on to earn a Master of Industrial Design in 2009. She started at Broan-NuTone working with household ventilation products as a Global Category Manager and then a Global Category Director. She was soon promoted to Senior Director of Product Management for North America and was named a Vice President and General Manager in 2022. Weigel attributes her career trajectory to her ability to define priorities and to relentlessly pursue goals. “To do this effectively, I have found that it is critical to put people first, ensuring challenges and opportunities are clear and the team are active participants in designing a winning strategy,” she stated. She says that the ability to be flexible and adaptable to changes in the industry is important, but she also attributes her career success to her superiors and colleagues. “I have been lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from exceptional leaders that have trusted me to lead and serve,” she stated. “This network of mentors, sponsors, allies and coaches has helped me grow as a leader.”
Before she started her career in industry, Weigel worked in academia, including a year of teaching at SIGD as an Assistant Professor. “It was an incredible honor and privilege to teach graduate and undergraduate students in one of the top industrial design programs in the U.S.,” she stated. One of her most important takeaways from that experience was students’ curiosity and willingness to ask questions in the classroom atmosphere. She tries to create that same environment with the teams she leads because it encourages them to think outside of the box. “People do their best work when they feel safe to share their ideas and ask questions openly,” she stated. “I try to emulate the openness with my teams and cultivate the curiosity that sparked the innovation that one experiences in the design studio.”
As her career has progressed, Weigel has found herself facing more responsibilities and greater demands from inside and outside the company, but she continues to depend on the solid design foundation that she first built in SIGD to guide her. “The industrial design process teaches us to understand and empathize with the user and the importance of including many different perspectives when scoping a problem and seeking solutions. This is an approach that I continue to apply to many problems within the business,” she stated. She feels that Auburn’s user-centered design approach in combination with a focus on practical product development was crucial in shaping the first few years of her career. She especially appreciated industry-sponsored studios that allow students to understand the importance of working with different functions within a business and delivering a solution that creates value.
Weigel advises students to gain a wide range of experiences in college so they are prepared for the challenges they’ll face in a business environment. “Participate in as many industry-sponsored studios as possible and learn as much as you can about the role of the industrial designer within the business environment and how you add value. Go to job fairs and talk to companies, interview as often as you can and try to get an internship before you graduate.”