Latest Presenter Discusses Overcoming the Challenges of Change in One’s Career

During the latest installment of the “All I Know So Far” series, Toyota Industries Commercial Finance (TICF) welcomed Lindsay Smelser, Chief Operating Officer of Toyota Financial Savings Bank, for a candid conversation about embracing change, finding confidence, and turning challenges into opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Lindsay Smelser is no stranger to change. With experience in several different industries and departments, from marketing to product development, to operations, the evolution of her well-rounded career has made her an expert at adjusting. Her secrets to overcoming the challenges of change? Being confident in her abilities and listening to learn from those around her.

Lindsay recalls a pivotal moment in her career when a senior leader questioned why she seemed so nervous to speak up when she had great ideas and opinions to share. She explains, “It was this lightbulb moment, like—wow—this person wants to hear from me. It was really empowering. And your leaders want to hear from you, and they want to know what’s happening.”

This moment of recognition sparked a realization: confidence is key. “You start to gain confidence in yourself—that you actually do know the plan—you can figure this out.” In any new role, she explains, it’s important that you are confident in your abilities (why you were chosen) so you can maximize your value as a leader and as a team member. “We’re all trying our hardest,” she says. “If you can control your inner fear, it helps that internal monologue become ‘I have something to contribute. I deserve a seat.’”

“If you can control your inner fear, it helps that internal monologue become ‘I have something to contribute. I deserve a seat.’”

But how can one be confident in a new role, department, or industry, where they may feel lost or unsure? Lindsay knows this feeling very well; she describes feeling “terrified, but excited” when starting a new role. Instead of letting change overwhelm her, however, she focuses on listening and learning from her new team.

“I’m an introverted person by nature,” she explains, “so I like listening until I have a perspective. I like to observe. I don’t like to be the loudest person in the room.” Listening and learning from those around her, especially those on the front line of the company, helps her better understand how to bring value.

When starting a new role, Lindsay uses four distinct questions when checking in:

  • What’s going right?
  • What’s going wrong?
  • What would you do if you were me?
  • What would you like to do next?

After asking her team these questions, she says, “It’s interesting because you start to see very common themes, and that creates a roadmap.” Lindsay explains that with a roadmap, you’re able to really visualize how current processes work and how you can bring value to your team. And confidence, she says, comes from listening and understanding.

Lindsay’s career journey offers a valuable lesson in using change to your personal and professional advantage. Her advice to those looking to grow their careers? Stay curious. “Let yourself ask questions. It leads to conversations.”

Staying curious, contributing with confidence, and deliberately listening to those around you equips you with the tools to accept fluidity in your career and embrace change with open arms.