Level Up Leadership: Laura Mundy

Listen to the podcast (FULL TRANSCRIPT):

Level Up is a podcast for anyone interested in improving their leadership skills. The series is designed to help you gain insight into the skills needed to grow your career.

You can subscribe to Level Up Leadership on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySoundCloud and Spotify.

Most recently, we spoke to Laura Mundy, SVP of Corporate Compliance at Experian. Laura is also the executive sponsor of Experian’s wellness employee resource group (ERG), ASPIRE.

Here are some takeaways from our conversation with Laura:

Be honest right out of the gate.
If you are a new leader being expected to manage a certain group of people and you don’t feel very confident, Laura suggests bringing everyone around the table to be honest with what you can provide, where you can support and how you can bring value to the team or project. Your team will appreciate your honesty and this will build trust.

Do your research.
Most of the time, lack of confidence comes from feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing. Even if you don’t, that’s OK—just put in the time to read the appropriate books, watch videos, take classes, get to know your team, etc. Learning doesn’t stop when you’re a leader.

Go out of your way to befriend people in different departments.
Even if you don’t think of this as formal “networking,” it’s still great to build on new connections from different fields than yours. Laura suggests having lunch with others and learning more about their craft. At the very least, it will give you a good idea of how other parts of your company work. It can also help you move into another position or become involved in a project you’re interested in!

Volunteer in your communities.
Laura cares about the people she meets and the people she works with. She is great with understanding that everyone struggles and everyone has something great to offer. But not everyone is like that. If you have trouble with connecting with others, Laura says volunteer work is a great way to get attuned with your empathy. You will not only be doing good work, but you will have the opportunity to help others, interact with people you may not have otherwise, and most of the soft skills you learn will be transferrable to your leadership.

We were so happy to have the opportunity to chat with Laura for Level Up.

Check out our interviews with other leaders here.

Full Transcript

Patty: 00:01 Today we’re speaking with Laura Mundy, SVP of Corporate Compliance at Experian. [inaudible 00:00:05] good.
Patty: 00:30 So if you could just tell us a little bit about your professional and educational background and your role here at Experian.
Laura: 00:36 Sure, sure. So it goes back a little ways. I’m old. I started at Experian when I was still at, in college, in April 27th, 1981.
Patty: 00:51 Oh, wow.
Laura: 00:52 It was tiered [inaudible 00:00:53] then. And quite honestly didn’t really know when I first took the job, what a credit reporting agency was. Learned along the way. Kind of evolved in my roles here. Started in customer service. At the time it was called consumer relations. I was the one when you came in to get a copy of your credit report and you filled out a form, that had your identifying information. I took that form and keyed it in, and processed a copy of your credit report for you. Over time, spent time talking with consumers directly about their reports, both by phone and in person. Probably called them counselors, at the time and we would counsel people on what was on their credit report and they weren’t quite as consumer friendly at the time, very coded looking documents.
And so, kind of helped people understand what was on their credit report, what the credit report meant, how they might improve their credit rating. And this was really kind of pre scores, it’s more of the raw data at the time. Then in 1986, we decided as a company we were going to launch a direct consumer product line, really being very innovative and it was called Credentials. So I went to be part of that initiative and helped establish the customer relations or the consumer relations, customer services was what that was called for credentials. And we were a little ahead of our time. Consumers and clients weren’t quite ready for what Matt All brought to them. But in a nutshell, it was very similar to what you see in our ECS product today, but it had a couple of different things.
When you enrolled, you filled out a universal application, was a, I want to say 22, 24 page document, very spread out and inviting, looking to fill out what you would typically put on an application for credit. And the intent was that this universal application would be stored in our database. And as a member of this service, you’ve had a membership card with a toll digit number and a four digit passcode. If you had a co-member, typically a spouse, but it didn’t have to be, it started out, it was supposed to be, we evolved when we realized not everybody had a spouse, but they did want a co-member. So two different passcodes for that, linked to the same membership. And the draw for a client was that if they participated in this, they could in a single inquiry, enter in this 12 digit number and one or both passcodes and they would receive the application for one or both people and the credit reports, for both, one or both people, for 50 cents less than what they were paying for a credit inquiry on itself.
So that was the draw, that was the, come see why this is so great. Also included in this membership was credit card protection. So you provided a list of your credit cards that you wanted protected through the process. And we would notify you if anybody inquired on your credit report. And we would notify you quarterly if nobody did. So similar to our ECS product.
Mike: 00:52 So this was back, before-
Laura: 00:52 1986.
Mike: 00:52 This is really the first to do this.
Laura: 05:42 Yes. Yes. Yeah. So we were still TRW. And, like I said, ahead of her time. Our clients didn’t quite know how to handle it. Still wanted the consumer to fill out the application, their own application. So that frustrated consumers, they said, I already filled it out. That was the whole point. And so, and then we would run into things like, somebody would lose their wallet and maybe they hadn’t filled out all of their credit cards on their protection list. And they’d say, well, you have the credit report, just go get it. Ended up, because we started trying to do that, ended up canceling cards that worked in their [inaudible 00:06:31], in their wallet, all those things. So anyway, TRW at the time decided it was getting more negative press than positive press and decided they were going to sell it.
Mike: 06:44 Oh, interesting.
Laura: 06:45 Yup. So we sold it off-
Mike: 06:45 What was that like? Being part of that sell off?
Laura: 06:50 It was fascinating actually. The whole process was, I did actually go with the sale for a short period of time. Just personal reasons made me feel they weren’t, they didn’t really have the … I hate to use the word ethics, but they didn’t have consumer number one in their business proposition. And it just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel good. So decided to step back from that and rejoin back into TRW, at the time.
Mike: 07:30 What was the, so because navigating that it’s tough.
Laura: 07:35 It is.
Mike: 07:35 Because you kind of made, you told your leaders like, I’m moving over with the acquisition, I’m excited you got settled in, you’re like, actually I think I made the wrong decision. I want to go back. And then now going back, what was that experience like? Because I think that’s something that som has struggled with.
Laura: 07:54 Absolutely. I was really fortunate. So as the sale was happening, I had the person that was in charge of internal audit at the time, said, “Hey, if you don’t want to go there, if you don’t want to go with the sale, I’d love to have you in internal audit.” And I felt like, I built the customer service team. I felt I really, I mean I did believe in the product and service. I thought it could be a good thing. We just, TRW wasn’t ready to dive in as far as they probably needed to. And so I thought, now I’m going to go do this. I’m going to stick this through. It didn’t take long for me to realize that those that had purchased, it was a investment firm that bought it, that they weren’t aligned with my thinking. And so I contacted the person back in internal audit and said, “I know I probably missed my window of opportunity, but if anything does come up again, I would love to be considered.” And he said, “I’ll take you now.”
Mike: 09:16 Oh, that’s awesome.
Laura: 09:18 Yeah. So I was really, really fortunate.
Mike: 09:23 Was there any, was it awkward at all coming back?
Laura: 09:25 It was not, the people were so amazing. They were very welcoming. They were just, I felt like, I just came home. And I mean at that point I’d really only been with the company five years, which I guess is a long time for some people, but back in the day people went to work for a place and stayed there for a long, long time.
Mike: 09:54 Yeah. Now, and what’s also interesting about your move back is that, you’re actually moving into a different role, because you were totally on the consumer side, helping with the credit reporting aspect, building up the processes, and now your kind of leaving all that, which I think, you enjoyed doing it and now you’re going into auditing. Tell us about that transition.
Laura: 10:20 Yeah, so I was nervous about it, because I said I’m not an auditor. I really don’t know the procedures associated with that. I took some training on, ultimately became a Certified Internal Auditor. But what I found was, the key things were, I really didn’t, I knew the business, I knew the consumer relations part of TRW. I knew the reseller part because ultimately that’s how that relationship continued on. They still had a relationship with Experian, because they were purchasing credit reports from Experian. So they became a reseller of our data and resellers were relatively new then. So I had insight into operations from the very tactical consumer facing part of the business and I had insight into what a new resell, with this whole new reseller world looks like.
So for me it was a matter of really taking the knowledge I had and performing reviews of how effective are the controls in our businesses, or in the reseller relationships, to make sure that we follow the laws. And I was very well versed on the laws, so if you will, certainly the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It was pretty Gramm-Leach-Bliley, so it was, the Fair Credit Reporting Act was our big regulatory requirement. And so for me it was a really easy transition to just take my knowledge and prepare reviews of what I saw and recommendations I had for making it better. So I really kind of, we didn’t have a lot of auditors, that we called operational auditors at the time. Most of what we did from our internal audit side was IT audits, the technology piece of it all and some financial, that we did relying on external auditors to help with that, but we didn’t have a lot of operational auditor knowledge.
So we kind of built that up. And so then in the midst of all of this, is also when we started heading into Y2K, and we’ve got a huge task ahead of us as a company, to make sure that on mid-night of 1999, that as we click into January 1st, our systems don’t go, [puh 00:13:26]! So there was a whole big project called Y2K or Copernicus. The Copernicus was transitioning to file one, that was the difference. But we had what we called the go criteria. And every part of the organization had things they needed to do, to make sure that their piece of the puzzle fit in just right at that time.
And so internal audit played a role in monitoring the go criteria. And we just tracked, in the ever popular green, yellow, red mapping, we tracked all of the criteria. Lynn Manzano was a big part of, she’s still here with the company, a big part of helping lead us through that. And so I would, it was my job to make sure that our go criteria was all green, by the time that infamous date arrived. And we were, all was well. Yeah.
Mike: 14:40 Yeah. I can see why they chose you to join the auditing side, just because of all your knowledge and understanding of processes. But as far as your personal kind of career path and interest, did you feel during that time any sort of regret or hesitation? Because man, you have been doing such a great job on the consumer side and then to leave that side of the business to do something completely different, and not even sure whether you would like it.
Laura: 15:12 Yeah. Yeah, there were certainly anxieties that came along with that. I again, just really fortunate to have really great people saying, I know you can do this. Even when I was in part of the credentials group, so there was a few years there before we decided to divest it, where I led a programming team. So it was one of the managers of the programming team. I am not a programmer, and when they came to me and said, we’d like you to leave that group, I said, “I don’t program, but I just, this doesn’t make sense.” And they said, ” We still think you can do it.” And I learned a lot from them. It was, it was managing people. But I learned a lot from them. I learned some of the jargon and the thought process that goes with coding, which was also helpful.
I also became a liaison between, we ended up having a third party that we did, also did coding for us, because we just ended up, they were building and building, and we just hadn’t had enough programmers to be able to keep up with it. So we had some external programmers that we contracted with. And it was my job to kind of explain to them what the programming team was wanting help with, helping them understand what the request was, because they didn’t necessarily speak TRW, so I could put it into language that they understood. That this is what we need, this is what that means here, and be able to kind of get those contracts done.
Mike: 17:11 When you started seeing and working with that team, first of all, I want to ask you about just the, taking on a team like this and like you were saying, I don’t know programming. And I feel sometimes as leaders you get put in situations where all of a sudden, you need to manage a group of people that have an entirely different skillset. What were some things you did to help you during that period of time?
Laura: 17:37 So certainly met with the people right up front and said, this is who I am. I mean, they knew me. I’d been working with, in that group for a while. I said, this is what I know, this is what I don’t know. I’m going to rely heavily on you having the knowledge of what needs to be done. I’m here to help make sure you have the right support and tools and information to complete the tasks you need to complete. We have incredible people at this company and they were on board. They were supportive. They said, we’re in this together. I have a big, I have this philosophy about work hard and be kind to people. And we just we’re a team.
Everybody, I mean and they would laugh sometimes about, okay, so you don’t, I know you know not what this means, but here’s what the problem is. And I think it helped them too, being able to kind of speak, to kind of put thoughts in their mind around, how do you speak to somebody about what the issues are, if they don’t speak the language, the technical language you do. But we have, again, great people here and they embraced the relationship and we just did it together.
Mike: 19:06 What advice would you give the young leader who is given an assignment similar to that? They’re all of a sudden, they’re being told to manage a certain group of people and that leader doesn’t feel very confident for similar reasons. They need to establish trust and rapport with this team. I [inaudible 00:19:24] you can give them some guidance.
Laura: 19:26 Absolutely. Again, I think being honest right out the gate, bring them around the table and say, we’re all in this together. We all want to be successful. Here’s where I think I can provide support. Here’s where I’m going to look to you to help support, do your research. Do, spend some time reading the books, spend some time sitting with them. It wasn’t unusual for me to go sit at their desk and just watch them go through some of the stuff they were doing. Which was very common, which is a task that I’ve been used commonly in audit, is I go and sit with people to see them do their job. And I’ve learned from them. Sometimes just looking at things with fresh eyes, and you say, “So why is it that we do that that way?” There may be a really good reason or there may be no good reason anymore. 10 years ago we used to do this and we just never rethought the process.
So I think being honest, being fair showing an interest, really doing your research, listening, the biggest thing you can do is, you’re there to help facilitate their success. If you’re not listening to them, they’re going to stop telling you what’s wrong. And if you don’t act on the things that they bring to you, they’ll stop telling you. So, it’s a partnership. It’s just being fair, open and honest and collaborative.
Mike: 21:08 [inaudible 00:21:08] Patty. The other side of this is the emotional side and something we’ve talked to quite a bit about is, imposter syndrome and when you lose that lack of confidence. So I think everything you’ve shared is fantastic advice on just being truthful and transparent with your team. Figuring out ways that you can assist them. Learning in that journey, being a good leader, finding ways to help. But then the emotional side is where some people get stuck, right? It’s that, oh my gosh, I don’t know what I’m doing, or they put me in this role, but they really don’t know that I don’t know how to do this. And that’s one of the hardest parts about all of this.
Laura: 21:52 It is, it is. But I think you have to be open about that, and I think you have to be fair to yourself. And this is a little bit of, I need to walk the talk. Because I’m super critical of myself. And you have to really be able to acknowledge your successes. You have to be able to say, “Hey, you know what, I didn’t know that before I started this process and I do now.” And maybe you make mistakes along the way, it’s okay to make the mistakes own up to them, fix them, learn from them, share your knowledge with others. Because it really takes all of us to be in this together, to be successful.
I have a true passion for consumers. And I’m sure it comes from my starting days, of talking to them on the phone and hearing, I would get calls from people that would be, it took all they had to make that call, because they’re scared to death about their credit and they’re going to call, at the time TRW and say, “Okay, I know I’m not in a good place. What do I do from here?” And to hear that anxiety and just terror sometimes, and to be able to say, it’s okay. It happens to many. So let’s just look at what you have. Let’s look at where you can go, what’s your best steps. This is what it all means, because again, it was not a very user friendly report. So kind of walking them through what it all said and they’d say, “Oh yeah, I know what is. Oh, okay.”
Especially at the time, there were a lot of companies that financed for others, that didn’t put there, who they were financing for. So there’s was all these foreign names that said they owe, thousands of dollars and they don’t know what it is. So walking them through that and saying, “You know what, it’s okay. You’ve made the first step.” So my passion for consumers really drives everything I do. And so along my journey as I was in internal audit, I ended up leading internal audit, as my boss retired. I took his role. And-
Mike: 24:32 Can you, that’s huge to … Did your boss kind of groom you?
Laura: 24:40 Yes, yes. Yes and no.
Mike: 24:42 Okay.
Laura: 24:43 There was, I think we’ve always been in the situation of, we all have a lot of just extra time to do [crosstalk 00:24:50] people. So it really is carving out the right times and trying to find the opportunities where we can support people and grow them. And believe it or not at the time, right [inaudible 00:25:07] prior to his retirement, he was given a special project to build the McKinney Data Center.
Mike: 25:16 Oh, wow.
Laura: 25:16 So he was in charge of making that come to fruition. So you can imagine, here’s the head of internal audit saying, [inaudible 00:25:26] special project.
Mike: 25:27 Special project.
Laura: 25:29 We want you to go build a data center.
Mike: 25:31 That’s amazing. Oh my gosh.
Laura: 25:32 Over, near our other one. And that meant, reviews with the weather services, on well how do tornadoes flow? What are the normal trajectories of them? What would it take to withstand in level four? How do you burn the facility? I mean just, you can imagine what he had to take on. So he was, he spent a great deal of time in Texas. We were still based in Orange, California at the time. So it was decided that, okay, we would tag team, I run the internal audit, while he did the data center. So I had kind of training in, in job training-
Mike: 26:19 Yeah. Yeah. Well it seems your boss saw this as an opportunity to, let’s get Laura doing this now and I could just watch from afar.
Laura: 26:29 Exactly, exactly. And fortunately at the time he reported to the CFO, and the CFO said, “Yup, let’s do it.” And so yeah, I took over, and so we had different approaches to, I’m one of those really organized or like things to be really well planned out and-
Mike: 26:52 Like Patty.
Laura: 26:56 I get a little anxious when things are not quite lined up the way I [crosstalk 00:27:00]. I’m getting better about it. You have to. But his approach was really more kind of, throw it at the wall, see what sticks. [inaudible 00:27:10]. So there was something, there was good about his approach and there was good about my approach, and kind of blended up together. We landed in a good spot. Then he retired. I took on the role permanently. And a few years go by, we’ve gone through Y2K and we get to a point where, [inaudible 00:27:43] we are now Experian, and we need to kind of put, as my current boss at that point was then the CFO, the original one had retired. This was a new one. And he said, we kind of have to pull our big boy pants on, as a independent company, and we need to really frame up some of the operations we have in place.
Which later I found out was driven by our, the head of our legal counsel or general counsel at the time, and our global COO, it was Chris Callero at the time. The General Counsel, Robert Nelson and Chris Callero got together and said, we really need a compliance organization that’s more structured and more formalized, would Laura do that? So discussions between my existing boss and them, and then me, and I said, sure. It’s another one of those things though, I’m not quite sure what I’m stepping into. But having been kind of on the governance side of the business in internal audit, having been on the front lines part, I knew how the pieces fit together. And so I was asked to lead our North America Compliance Organization.
Mike: 29:32 Wow. I think it’s really cool that, just your career path as you’ve taken on these different roles, you were just in really important parts of different businesses. You got your chance to see how everything was working together. And that made you a great candidate to, yes, Laura knows exactly how these different things operate.
Laura: 29:57 Yeah, exactly. No, it was growing up in the company. That was my best education to be honest. Despite the certifications I get along the way [crosstalk 00:30:07] internal audit and then Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional. It really, my best base of knowledge comes from growing up in this company.
Mike: 30:20 Would you say that for young leaders here, who are just getting started or maybe in their first couple of years, if you want to grow here at Experian, definitely consider moving around.
Laura: 30:35 Absolutely. Absolutely. Or at least seeking out mentors in different jobs, whether it’s, I’d like to have the opportunity to shadow you, periodically. So it takes some coordination because you don’t just get to walk away from your existing job and go shadow somebody. But sometimes there’s some job swaps that can happen. We’ve done that. That, maybe if you really want to get a career path that takes you somewhere, maybe you use some of your vacation days to shadow somebody. Or just, spend some time, some lunch time with some people in different departments and say, can you tell me a little bit about what you do and what your job is? And it helps you understand what things you’re drawn to, what things just don’t sound of interest to you. But it gives you a good base knowledge of what happens where. So yeah, so for me, that really was what helped me move from job to job.
Ultimately then I became, as we expanded and set up our operations in different regions, I became the Global Head of Compliance. And what an incredible opportunity that’s been. I don’t think you realize how different the regions can be, how different the cultures can be, yet how amazing all our people are. I spend a lot of time in airports and on airplanes, but, and that can be tiring, but I know as soon as I walked through a door, one of our Experian offices, I’m going to be met by the most amazing people. I’ve learned so much from them. I hope I bring things to them that provides development and enthusiasm. But they have been, I just, I can’t think of an office we have that I’ve been to, that I’ve not walked away from saying, feeling energized and feeling, wow. That was a great experience.
So you just keep learning. You just keep asking questions, meeting people, talking with people, honoring and respecting them. And everybody’s willing to share if that’s what you, that’s how you grow. That’s how you have the opportunity to have more opportunities.
Patty: 33:29 That’s actually one of my questions was that, you travel a lot, but like you said, you get tired. So how do you prevent yourself from burning out after traveling for weeks at a time and then you come back, and then you have to your job here.
Mike: 33:42 Or even just taking on these huge global roles, where you’re interfacing with senior leadership, you’re a senior leader, and you’re working with teams, those are long days.
Laura: 33:51 They are long days, because you want to make the most of your time in any location you’ve spent. [inaudible 00:33:57], the company has invested time and money in sending you there. So you want to make sure you’re meeting with people, you’re talking with them, you’re hearing them. That’s usually how I find out if there’s something that we need to address. And that’s not necessarily, I mean, some people might think, okay, she’s the police. That’s not the intent at all. The intent is, if something’s not working right, we need to fix it. We need to make sure that our company’s protected, that consumers are protected, that our clients are protected and most importantly are employees are protected and happy. Because those are the people that are making things happen for our company, the employees. And they spend a lot of their day doing their job. So for me, it can be challenging that I spend the day and sometimes into evenings and dinners with people in these locations. Then it’s, get back to my hotel and try to catch up with emails.
I’m trying to keep things floating that need to, that need my direct attention. I have an amazing team that are just, they do phenomenal work at just keeping everything moving right. No matter where I am, I know they’re doing the right things. I know they’re bringing the right things to me. If there’s something that requires my attention, I know they’ll escalate it. If not, they just handle it and we catch up and make sure that I know what’s going on. But yeah, finding that balance can be challenging.
Patty: 35:53 Right. Sorry.
Mike: 35:54 I’ve been, just the way you talk about your conversations with consumers, your conversations with internal teams and honoring their time. I just sense there’s so much empathy with you and I’m wondering if you kind of talk about things you’ve done. I’m wondering if you’ve always been empathic, and things that you’ve done to grow that empathy.
Laura: 36:20 Yeah, I guess. I think, I had a boss back in the early credential days that said, “I bet that on your report card in school it said, you work and play well with others.” [inaudible 00:36:37] I guess I did. Oh, outstanding. But I’ve just, yeah, I have always felt that people are special, that everybody brings something good to the table. We need to help nourish and encourage that, that they feel that that’s acknowledged and that they should continue to do that. I care about the people I meet, I care about my team. I like to make sure we’re respecting their privacy, but making sure I know if they’re going through something, I want to be able to help them through it. If they want my help, if there’s things that we can do as a company to assist them, then I want to help do that. I have in my private life, I have done a lot of volunteer work. I had, it was kind of funny actually at one point, so I have two kids, kids. One is 28, and one’s 24.
Mike: 37:53 They’re kids.
Laura: 37:56 They’re kids, and they, when they were in school, I was on the PTA and you do all those things. And then as they moved out of schools that had that, I was asked, well, can you stay on, can you keep helping us? And helped form the district of PTAs for the city that we live in, and establish new PTAs at schools that didn’t have them. And just met amazing people that, they have that same question of, I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know, can I be a PTA president or a treasurer or a secretary? Yes, you can. It’s really simple. You just need to do these things. [inaudible 00:38:42], I just, I like to do what I can to support people. I think I’ve been really fortunate to have people do the same for me, and so that’s what I need to do for others. Don’t know if that answered your question.
Mike: 39:02 Yeah, no, that does. What advice would you have for those who maybe if they were to rate themselves in an empathy scale, they would say, I’m not so empathetic. I don’t have that much empathy, I want to have more empathy, basically. I just don’t know how to get there.
Laura: 39:21 I would suggest doing some volunteer work. It’s amazing. One of the things that we’ve just started here, one of the ERG is Aspire, and I’m the executive sponsor for that. I will say that I didn’t have as large an appreciation for how many people are impacted, the objective or the mission for Aspire is to support those with physical or mental impairments or provide care for those that do. Think about it, if you can [inaudible 00:39:56], anybody you know, probably has a connection to one of those, at least. And I have learned so much about people that are in need of support in that area. And just working with some of those people and understanding the challenges they face, you can’t help but be empathetic to, how can I make a difference?
And I understand, not everybody’s kind of all in like I am on that, but if you just kind of step back and look at what you have in your life, and people have challenges, not everybody has, the most, everything in place and everything going their way. But if you really step back and think about it, there are good things happening to you and how can you help others get there too. Maybe it’s something simple. Maybe it’s, I’m going to go stock shelves at the food bank. It doesn’t take a lot of great knowledge to put a can on a shelf, check the date, put it up there. But you’re making a difference in somebody’s life and doing those things add up. And you start seeing how you can make a positive difference in somebody else’s life. How you can make positive difference in a co-worker’s life. And you just start feeling great about yourself. So, I mean, if you’re feeling down or depressed or you don’t have things that you think you should have in your life, go take a look at some that really don’t. I think empathy kicks in.
Patty: 41:58 Do you have advice for leaders who might notice that something is wrong with their team members, and how they can approach that without maybe overstepping a boundary?
Laura: 42:07 Yeah. So do you mean in terms of the Aspire or just in general?
Patty: 42:12 In general.
Laura: 42:13 In general. Okay. Yeah, I think you do need to be observant. You do need to … And many people are not public. They do come in, they do their job and off they go. I think you can usually tell by the way they do their job or how they’re interacting with other people. If something’s different, respect their privacy. But I think it’s fair to [inaudible 00:42:45] pull aside some time with them, whether it’s in an office or whether you go for some coffee somewhere. Just to say, “I just noticed you seem to be a little different. Is there something I can do to help? Is there something that you’d like to share with me?” If not, at least they know your ear is there if they want it.
One of the things that I try to do as I’m building my team and all of my leaders on my team know this philosophy I have, came from a book called, the ideal team player. And it’s, when you’re looking for people to be on your team, I look for people that are humble, that they’re not all about, I did this, I did that, me, me, me.
Patty: 43:48 Ego.
Laura: 43:49 Yeah. When they’re talking about things they’ve done in their career, I’m looking for words like, my team and I did this, so I’m looking for the humility. I’m looking for a hunger and it’s a good hunger not, I’m going to plow over everybody to get to what I want, but more a, I want to learn. I want to know, I want to be part of a good thing. So a hunger, so humility and hunger and then people awareness. So understanding, being able to observe and respond to how people are reacting to you. It’s really critical, not everybody receives information the same way. So you do need to be able to read a room. You need to be able to adjust accordingly. And so when I’m looking to hire people on my team, I’m looking for that humility, that hunger and that people awareness. And that’s served me well and that we’ve built a team across the globe, that are good team members together.
They do care about what’s happening with each other. They share information, if they found a way of doing something that’s really been successful, they’re sharing it across the team. They’re willing and interested in helping each other. I have a number of people on my team whose hunger is ERGs. I’m really thrilled that they want to give back in that way and participate in that way. But yeah, I think it’s important to be tuned in and willing to interact with people in a way that they know you care, that it’s legitimate, it’s sincere. It’s not just, what’s your problem?
Patty: 45:53 Yeah, right, right.
Laura: 45:53 It’s, I notice you seem to be a little different, is there something I can do to help? Is there’s something that’s going on that’s impacting you? Or am I just misreading? I could be doing that. Right? So that’s kind of what I try to do.
Patty: 46:12 You mentioned [inaudible 00:46:13] ERGs, and I think it’s a little unfortunate that sometimes our leaders, sometimes they still don’t see the value of joining an ERG. They think if it’s anything outside your regular scope of work, it’s kind of a waste of time. Right? But you are our executive sponsor for our newest ERG Aspire, like you mentioned. Do you think you could tell us a little bit about why you think it’s important to be involved in an ERG and how that might provide a more well rounded experience and career for somebody?
Laura: 46:40 Certainly, yes. So I’m a big supporter of all your ERGs and in fact our Women in Experian group, because I’m global and I go around to different locations, Jennifer Schulz has kindly, labeled me a global ambassador. Yeah. So I try to, when I go to different locations, I try to pull a group of women together, that anybody that’s interested in getting together, sit around the table, talk about what things are going well, what things could we do better. And we’ve had, I’ve had really good experiences. I’ve had some really bad experiences that helped us get to a better place. So I’m thrilled that Experian is taking the approach of, bring your whole self to work. That there’s too much of your day spent engaged in work related activities, to not feel you can’t be you. Or that there aren’t other people like you here, that you can share ideas and just, having a bad day. I just need a kind ear to listen.
Learning about the different cultures. I mean, like I said, I get the benefit of going to some of these locations, but you can learn right in your own campus about the different cultures and the different things that make each cup culture amazing. I think that employees that feel their company and their boss and their leadership care enough to allow that to occur, we absolutely should be supporting it. People light up when they feel they are sharing something special in their lives with their coworkers. Just getting together and planning some things and it does take time. I will agree, and it is a matter of you do have to find the right balance. You do have a job to do. But we can all find some little extra time here and there, to really do some of the things that we love that we can share with our coworkers. And that just makes us all more informed, more tolerant, more inclusive. I just, you fear what you don’t know. There’s nothing to fear. It’s really great stuff that we can gain from these ERGs and I encourage all leaders to support it.
Patty: 49:29 [inaudible 00:49:29]. Did you always want to be a leader?
Laura: 49:35 I would say no. But I, when I was leading the programming staff, somebody that still works here, Connie Rush, used to, we were both managers at the same time. And that organized stuff, right? I’ve got it. Things have got to be organized, make sure everybody knows what needs to be done and everything. And so she affectionately called me, I think it was affectionate. They called me little miss bossy. So [inaudible 00:50:10] acronym being tiered of your, Experian at the time. LMB, little miss bossy.
Mike: 50:18 That’s [inaudible 00:50:19].
Patty: 50:18 Yeah.
Laura: 50:23 But, she’s still one of my best friends here, so I think she did mean it lovingly. [inaudible 00:50:30]. But yeah, I don’t know that I necessarily always thought of myself in that way, but I think it was in my DNA.
Patty: 50:40 When did that start to change for you, where you started to realize, I actually am a leader.
Laura: 50:49 I guess it was actually back in, probably in high school. I mean, I was the editor of the school newspaper. I guess I’ve led things for a long time. In consumer relations, I decided that it would be helpful for anybody that had to pull credit reports to have information visible for them, to see things they needed to remember when they were entering data, things they needed to do if something went wrong. So I created these charts that you put on the walls and they were all things that I just chose to do. So I guess the leader in me has probably been there for a long time. I just didn’t necessarily know it until Connie probably pointed out, little miss bossy. Maybe that is me.
Patty: 51:45 Okay. We’re coming up on a hour. So [crosstalk 00:51:47].
Mike: 51:46 Oh my God, really, already? Oh no, I have a [inaudible 00:51:50] questions. Because I wanted … Okay, well I want to stick more with leadership, I have a question on leadership. So what I love is, when you first joined TRW, you talked about, you were already, oh we could do this better. Let’s just make some charts. And you’re always kind of, you’re very curious and wanting to make sure that people were being taken care of. But you got so much empathy. And so you were already leading even though maybe you didn’t have a leader title. And I’m wondering if you can give advice for those, here at Experian, they don’t have a leadership title, but they want to eventually move in the leadership direction. Things that they can start doing now to start to hone that leadership skill.
Laura: 52:34 Absolutely, yes. So, if you see something, then look around. Day to day activities, are there things we could be doing better? Why do we do some of the things we do? I think you’ll find a lot of the time is because that’s just the way it’s always been done. There’s an old story of a lady that handed down her pot roast recipe. You’re a generation, by generation, by generation, probably know it. But the first step was, you cut off the sides of the roast and then you season it and all this stuff. And so year, after year, after year, generation, after generation this continued. And finally, great, great granddaughter asked the still living great, great grandmother, “So why do we cut the sides off?” And she said, “Well, because my pan was too small.”
Mike: 53:28 Oh.
Laura: 53:28 So all these years, people would just, been doing it because they didn’t question why. So take a look at what you do day to day. Is there something that makes more sense? And from the compliance side I would say, don’t just change it. Because I’ve had that happen. Where, well we just cut out those three steps, because it was faster to just hand it off here. Well, there were points there that made sure we stayed in compliance with the law. But ask yourself, are we doing things the smartest way? If not, explore what’s better. Why do we do it that way? Is there a better way? Is it okay if we do that? Let’s be creative here. Are there things that consumers need, that clients need, that we just start delivering to them, that we could be doing better? Well, we just have never explored. Get creative, get thoughtful about what you might propose as changes.
Is there a leader that you find inspiring? Ask them if you can spend some time with them periodically, and learn from them. What did they learn the hard way, that you could learn from them? Talk with your boss, talk with your leader and say, “I have a desire to head into leadership. What would you recommend I do?” There’s also certainly plenty of classes. There’s our own Elevate, on Zoom. There are thousands of training opportunities out there. Everything from TED talks, to formalized training for here, to I mean, first aid training. There’s so many things out there that are free, that you can just take some time and learn. Just invest some time in yourself and share your desire with your leadership team, so they know that’s your goal.
Patty: 55:38 I think that’s a perfect place to wrap up our episode.
Mike: 55:41 It’s really good.
Patty: 55:41 That was really good. Thank you so much, Laura.
Laura: 55:43 Thank you. Thank you for inviting me.
Patty: 55:45 That was excellent.

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