Noetic’s Women in Leadership series highlights strong women leaders across industries who inspire us personally and professionally – as leaders, collaborators, and humans. They are recognized and influential in their respective fields and they leverage their positions of leadership to uplift, encourage, and support other women.
This month we are proud to feature Laura Smith, Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Customer Experience at Hertz.
Of your achievements, what makes you most proud?
Believing I didn’t have to choose between my career and family. I believe you can be brilliant at both. Nine years ago, I took a huge risk and moved to the U.S. with a newborn baby and a 3-year-old to a new role, new country, and new life. While this came with sacrifice, I am proud of everything I’ve achieved since then.
What is your rule of thumb when it comes to leadership?
Listen more than you speak. It’s hard to bring people with you if you aren’t clued into where they are. Take time to pay attention to the smallest details, so you can paint a big picture and a bright future.
Who has had the biggest impact on you and your career?
I’ve learned a ton from amazing individuals around the globe over the past 20+ years who have taken time to share their wisdom, feedback, and advice. One such piece of wisdom was during a conversation about moving up in the organization. They said, ‘Find the work that needs to be done and do that work. All good things will follow.’ That advice really mattered and made a difference to me.
My husband has also made a big impact. He is my No. 1 fan, biggest believer, and supporter. I couldn’t do half of what I do without him.
What has been your greatest lesson in the workplace?
Don’t shy away from difficult decisions. Call mistakes early, tackle issues head-on, and deal with people issues swiftly. In all those situations, be honest about why, communicate changes transparently, and share learnings so others can grow from these experiences, too.
How do you strike an optimal work/life balance?
As a busy wife, mom and executive, I’m very conscious of balance but there are no perfect scales. Dinner together with my family is rarely missed when I’m not traveling, and breakfasts to catch up on the weekend are sacred. But I don’t make it to all school events, and we have do-overs if we can’t celebrate an occasion on the exact day. I’ve learned I don’t have to do it all, and the importance of breathing and letting it go.
Workouts are non-negotiable for me to help destress, even if that means 4:30 a.m. starts so I can fit it in. At work, it’s important that meetings have a purpose and agenda and that I’m taking time daily to develop my team, so I have a solid support network I can count on.
I also strongly believe in all the ‘Rs – relaxing, rejuvenating, recharging – so it’s important for me and my team to take time off so we can all stay at the top of our game!
What are you most passionate about outside of work?
I have major wanderlust! My list of places to travel to is growing by the day. I also love to be outside and enjoy running, biking, and hiking…familiar paths, and discovering new trails.
What’s your advice to young females beginning their careers?
Don’t fall into the trap of being the note-taker or organizer. Be prepared, know your audience, anticipate questions and problems to be solved. Share your voice with answers, ideas, and solutions. Ask for help when you need it and don’t hold back. The ladder is high and very climbable.
If you had to do anything over, what would it be and why?
I often reflect on what I could or should have done differently after a conversation, an important meeting, or at the end of the year. But I don’t have any regrets. I believe in diving in, making progress, and that done is better than perfect. I reflect, take insights, and apply new learnings as I go. It never ends and is a continuous process.
What are some of the challenges women continue to face in their careers?
Having the confidence to speak up. I’ve had some difficult situations where I wished I would have sought advice or spoken up sooner. Having a strong network inside and outside of work and the courage to speak up and seek input on how to navigate challenging situations is not a sign of weakness, it’s a vital part of self-validation, growth, and moving forward.