Senior Vice President and General Counsel,
Toyota Motor Company
Education: B.A., history, University of California, Riverside; M.A., history, University of Arizona; J.D., UCLA
What your college professors didn't teach you: "If you are a history or an English major, they teach you how to think and how to boil down information.
"But the first thing you learn in the workplace is that you really don't know very much. That's when you work at making yourself useful."
- 1998-2004 Group vice president and general counsel, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
- 1996-98 Vice president and assistant general counsel, Toyota Motor Sales
- 1995-96 Assistant general counsel, Toyota Motor Sales
- 1992-95 Senior managing counsel, Toyota Motor Sales
- 1987-92 Managing counsel, Toyota Motor Sales
- 1985-87 Senior counsel, Toyota Motor Sales
- 1976-84 Litigation attorney with O'Melveny & Myers, Los Angeles
First automotive job: Senior attorney for Toyota in 1985
Most fun automotive job: "I have always had fun here. In private practice, you could get stuck on the same case for years, and you would have to know everything about the molecular inclusion of steel. Here I have always been interested."
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "There was a time when Toyota didn't realize we had become a big company, and I was responsible for part of that. We had been defending ourselves in product liability and other cases as a company that was under the radar. I think we were being taken advantage of. We needed to become much more assertive in how we defended our products."
Proudest achievement: "Building this law department. I would match both our attorneys and paralegals against any excellent boutique law firm in Los Angeles."
Current challenge: "The whole new emphasis on overall compliance and corporate governance, with things like Sarbanes-Oxley - especially for a company with a small-company mind-set. Bringing that in without destroying what made this company good is a challenge."
On being successful: "I tell my people to be useful, to make your clients look good. Help them get their job done, and they will keep coming back. Then you can influence things and be effective."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "The complexity of the business, especially in the overlay of regulation in everything we do in safety, product liability, dealer relations and the differences in laws across the states. There's a real challenge of being a nationwide company in a world of 50 state laws."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "Make yourself useful, keep your head down and work hard. If you're new to the business, listen a lot before you speak."
What you do to relax: "Adventure travel. I have visited Nepal, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Galapagos, Patagonia and Turkey. Next spring I will visit Tunisia and Libya en route to view a total eclipse of the sun in the Mediterranean."