Senior Vice President and Secretary,
Toyota Motor Company
Why did you want to work in the auto industry? I had been working in a big law firm as a litigator, and I was offered an opportunity to change my career and become a transactional lawyer in what I thought sounded like an interesting, exciting business. And I liked cars. I'm the only child of a Marine colonel who wanted a son. So I'm a sports fan and a car fan, shaped by my father, I suppose.
First automotive job: Lawyer for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. in 1985.
Proudest professional achievement: Building the legal department for Toyota, which I consider one of the best -- not only in the business, but in the country. I certainly had a lot of help, though, from my boss.
Current challenge at work: My current challenge is the current challenge of the company: I'm overseeing public relations and government relations, and we are heavily challenged in both areas.
Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for female executives?
There is some truth to that perception, but I think that the industry as a whole has made, as has the country as a whole, remarkable progress in terms of inclusion both of women and minorities. If you go back 20 or 30 years, you'll find very few of either. It's certainly not uncommon these days. Toyota itself has made enormous progress, particularly at senior levels in the company.
On stepping out of the shadows: I had been working in a large law firm for a long time, sort of buried in the army of lawyers who would be put on a lot of large cases. When I came to Toyota it was a very lean organization where people, early on, had a lot of responsibility. It was a freeing experience to be able to just dive in.
People were very willing to teach me the business. I liked being a lawyer who was part of the process and not just an appendage. Toyota's legal department really has always been part of its decision-making process, and that was very rewarding. I was pretty much given as much responsibility as I wanted to take on.
What you do to relax: I like to travel. I like music and film. Now that I'm in New York I don't get to do very much hiking, but I used to do a lot of hiking. And I'm a crazy, crazy Lakers fan.
-- Lindsay Chappell