Rubber Balls, Glass Balls, and the Power of a Calculated Risk: Latest Presenter Shares the Value of Taking Risks
When you join Toyota, you have the opportunity to enjoy what is essentially multiple careers—all within the same company. That was just one of the insights that Anna Sampang, Group Vice President, Service Operations for Toyota Financial Services, shared in a free-flowing conversation hosted by Mark Taggart, TICF President and CEO, as part of the company’s “All I Know So Far” guest speaker series. Anna walked participants through her career journey, leadership style, and the value of building a professional network of people.
Anna joined Toyota in 1993 and has had a multifaceted career in a variety of functions. Her first role, which capitalized on her degree in industrial engineering, acted as a launchpad for everything Toyota has to offer. Since then, she has held positions of increasing responsibility in engineering management, logistics planning, eBusiness, human resources, technology, and operations.
“I wasn’t afraid to raise my hand, try new things, and take risks.”
“The fact that you can learn so many different things, meet so many people, and be part of several distinct organizations, yet have the stability of remaining with a company you believe in, was very attractive to me,” Anna says. “Much of my career advancement came about because I wasn’t afraid to raise my hand, try new things, and take risks.”
While it can be scary to leave one’s comfort zone, Anna would assess how her skills transferred to new job requirements. She reminds everyone to recognize that many divisions and functions require common strengths—communication, project management, learning agility, and relationship building, to name a few. That gave her the confidence that she could apply talents she already had and learn what was specific to any given role. Yet confidence doesn’t mean you have all the answers. “I never go into a new position thinking that I know everything. I stand back and listen to understand the experts and the team,” Anna says. “Part of my job is to hire those who are smarter than me. Together, we can improve operations and each other.”
“The key is to know which ones are rubber balls you can let bounce and which are the glass balls you must catch.”
One of her most important pieces of wisdom relating to time management is that while you’ll always have multiple balls in the air, the key is to know which ones are rubber balls you can let bounce and which are the glass balls you must catch. “It’s a constant judgment call, but you know when it feels right,” she says.
Over the years, Anna has often called on her professional network to help her navigate her diverse posts. “I lean on my network all the time and encourage people to build their own before they need it, then leverage it by asking for help and offering assistance in return.”
In her view, an important contributor to success is to show up and perform every day—it’s your ticket to entry.
“There’s no formula for knowing if the next opportunity is the perfect one, but I always try to leave the business better than it was when I joined.”