Intrapreneur in Residence
As the Lyles Center’s first-ever Intrapreneur in Residence, Mendy Laval provides students with invaluable guidance and insights on implementing an innovative culture and entrepreneurial skills in a corporate setting.
Born in Fresno, Calif. and raised in a family of entrepreneurs, Mendy Laval is no stranger to the entrepreneurial spirit. After high school she attended the University of Southern California, majoring in international relations and history. Following USC, Laval attended the Thunderbird School of Global Management, allowing her to blend her love for international business and cross-cultural communications. As the self-described Queen of Internships, Laval grabbed every opportunity she could, graduating with a master’s degree in international management and a great deal of experience working with many cultures in a variety of environments.
Laval launched her career at Computer Power Systems, a division of Emerson Electric, where she helped develop the international arm of the company. She eventually moved to Dalgety Produce, where she established partnerships with importers throughout Asia, with a focus on Japan.
In 1991, Laval moved back to the Central Valley to join the Claude Laval Corporation, working side by side with her father, Claude Laval. Initially focused on growing the international operations, Laval became president in 1997 and helped the company double its revenue and profitability.
In her time there, Laval worked to keep the entrepreneurial environment her father created alive.
“When you think about it, people that possess an entrepreneurial mindset are really needed in corporations,” Laval said. “They have really good ideas that need to be listened to. How do you create a forum to do that, without creating chaos as you get more employees? You have to have some structure but only enough, I always say, to not collide in the hallways. You’ve got to work every single day at that culture.”
The Claude Laval Corporation was acquired by Lindsay Corporation in 2013. Laval remained with the company to ensure a smooth transition. In 2015 she became a strategic advisor for Lindsay Corporation and their Fresno-based business unit.
As Intrapreneur in Residence, Laval recalls her international-focused career to advise students on the ins and outs of corporate entrepreneurship. “There are so many ways to do everything. You just have to find the way that is going to work. I think that has its roots in entrepreneurialism. You can take that whole skill set and apply it in many different areas. Whether you want to start business and build an organization around it, or you want to work for an organization and help that organization meet its long-term goals.”
In addition to her work helping students navigate the corporate world, Laval is an enthusiastic member of the community. She is especially passionate about Valley Children’s Hospital, where she served on the Board of Trustees for 11 years and held the position of President of the Board. She is also a member of La Feliz Guild of Valley Children’s Hospital, currently serving as the Guild President. Laval has served on the Board of Directors of the Fresno Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Better Business Bureau, and was a member of Leadership Fresno, Class XI.
Laval and her husband of 21 years, Khaled, have one daughter, Ellery.