FTG 0065 – Driving Up The Hill with Automotive Trade Leaders Yuri Unno ’95 and Amanda Blunt ’09

Episode 7 April 23, 2024 00:47:59
FTG 0065 – Driving Up The Hill with Automotive Trade Leaders Yuri Unno ’95 and Amanda Blunt ’09
Following the Gong, a Podcast of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State
FTG 0065 – Driving Up The Hill with Automotive Trade Leaders Yuri Unno ’95 and Amanda Blunt ’09

Apr 23 2024 | 00:47:59


Hosted By

Sean Goheen

Show Notes


Alumnae Yuri Unno ’95 Behrend and Amanda Blunt ’09 Lib join Following the Gong to discuss working for major automotive companies Toyota and GM, respectively, in Washington D.C. They both share their stories of finding Penn State – Yuri as an international student, Amanda as someone from “outside Philly” – and how they found interests working in trade policy, lobbying, legal affairs, and more. Both share their insights on graduate and professional school, careers in these fields, educating government administrators and legislators, and navigating the complexities of the nation’s capital. This episode is great for any Scholar, and especially those interested in these topics, international students, and those who live or plan to live and work in and around DC. Both Amanda and Yuri’s bios are available below along with chapter markers detailing the topics discussed.

Guest Bios:

Yuri Unno ’95 Behrend is a federal lobbyist for Toyota Motor North America's Government Office in Washington, D.C., serving as the Director for Trade and Supply Chain. She is responsible for representing Toyota in front of the Administration and Congress on these issues. She earned her BA in Political Science with Honors and BA in Economics from the Penn State Behrend College. She also earned her MA from the Elliott School of International Studies at Gorge Washington University. Prior to her extensive career at Toyota, Yuri worked at a small consulting firm called G7 Group.

Amanda Blunt ’09 Liberal Arts is Counsel for Legal Affairs and Trade at Detroit-based car company General Motors's Washington, D.C. office. She is an international trade attorney for the company and, sitting in DC, works closely with the company's lobbyists in the Global Public Policy office. She also teaches international negotiations at Georgetown Law, where she earned her JD. Before joining GM in 2021 she worked at the White House for 5 years under 3 Presidential administrations at the Office of the US Trade Representative. USTR is responsible for US trade policy, including negotiating trade deals with other countries and litigating disputes at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. While at USTR she won a case against China at the WTO, and negotiated agreements with China, the EU, Japan, and other countries as well as in international bodies like the United Nations. Prior to government service she began her career at a large law firm. She earned her BA in Political Science with Honors from Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts. She likes speaking with students about law school, politics and careers in Washington, as well as international affairs and of course, trade. Her LinkedIn is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amanda-blunt-b933317/

Episode Topic & Chapters 

0:00         Introductions

00:44       Choosing Penn State and the Schreyer Honors College

03:07       Advice for Scholars finishing at a campus other than University Park

03:59       Advice for international students

04:56       Amanda's Penn State origin story

06:01       Being in a sorority as a Scholar

07:29       The Honors Thesis

09:18       Transitioning from college to industry

10:29       Deciding on law school

12:43       Staying at one company for the bulk of your career

16:09       Lobbying at various levels of government

19:29       Amanda's early career in big law and the White House

20:57       Advice for Scholars looking to work in the public sector

21:46       Working in business with a liberal arts degree

24:30       Working for a "car company" but not being a "car guy"

26:15       Being the "utility infielder" for the gov relations staff

27:17       Effectively lobbying legislators and other officials

29:13       Keeping up with the world, the industry, and the company

30:59       How Yuri and Amanda met and work together professionally

33:50       Getting involved in professional associations

36:01       Things Scholars can do now to prepare for similar careers

37:34       When to pursue graduate school

39:56       Working in government when you do or do not agree with elected leaders

40:49       Biggest success and failures

43:07       Thoughts on mentorship

44:34       Shoutouts!

45:20       Final pieces of advice

46:06       How to get in touch with Yuri and Amanda

46:23       Which Creamery flavors Yuri and Amanda would be; Wrap up and final thoughts


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Credits & Notes:

This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen '11 Lib (Schreyer), '23g Bus.

The artwork was created by Tom Harrington, the College’s Web Developer. 

The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used under Creative Commons License. 

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:05] Speaker A: Welcome to following the Gone, a podcast for Schreier Scholars, bringing you mentoring on demand from scholar alumni, like the two great alumni joining us today from Washington, DC. First, we have Amanda Blunt, class of 2009, who is currently counsel for legal affairs and trade at GM General Motors. We also have Yuri Uno, class of 1995, who, who is the director of trade and supply chain policy, government and industry affairs at Toyota Motor North America. Thank you both for joining us to talk all things about careers at the intersection of law, government, international trade, and, of course, cars and transit. [00:00:41] Speaker B: Thanks for having us. [00:00:43] Speaker C: Thank you. [00:00:44] Speaker A: Absolutely. So I always like to start by asking our guests how they first came to Penn State. And Yuri, as our more seasoned alumna, let's start with you. [00:00:54] Speaker C: Yes. So I was actually in other school in Pennsylvania. I went to high school in Britain, and back then we didn't have any Internet, so it was really difficult to get information about what school I want to go to in the United States. So I was very behind applying for most of the schools. I just applied to the school that I could get into, and that was Edinburgh University of Pennsylvania. I think they have a different name now, but that's what it was called back then. And of course, once you're in Pennsylvania, it's all about Penn State. Right. So I was like, I'm going to transfer to Penn State. So I did. That's how you became a Penn stater. [00:01:35] Speaker A: And you were at the Behrend campus up in Erie. So what inspired you to pick Penn State Erie and ultimately stay there for your degree? [00:01:46] Speaker C: Yes, it was really interesting that actually back then, all international students have to be in state college. You were not allowed to stay in other campuses. So I was this odd one who kept calls from international student services every semester. You need to come down here, you're not allowed to stay up there. Right. But because I was in another school in the area, I had a lot of friends there. I didn't want to be leaving. And also, I love that small campus atmosphere that Barron offered and the more intimate relationship that you can have with professors. Like some professors back then at least gave out their home phone number. If you had any questions, you can just call them. And if you are not in the class, they immediately notice. Where were you? You know, what were you doing? You know, it was more like a family like atmosphere that I really liked, and having English as a second language, that closeness to the other students and the professors really helped me to study better than had I gone down to main campus, where I would be one of the numbers that's why I was hearing anyway. So I enjoyed staying up there. And for me, that worked out awesome. [00:03:05] Speaker A: It's a great choice for many of our scholars. What would you give for advice for scholars who are choosing to stay at a campus other than university park to make the most of their time, whether that's in the class or outside of the classroom? [00:03:17] Speaker C: Yes, actually, definitely take advantage of the size, small size of the classes and get to know the professors more and have better relationship with them. But also, I recommend, this is something I didn't really do and I regret is like, try to go to main campus as much as you can. When you have opportunities, it can be just football game, but you know, you're still part of Penn State, but you feel like unless you make an effort to go down there, you're so isolated. In a way, I think you get more out of the whole educational system when you do that. [00:03:51] Speaker A: Absolutely. And a final question about your Penn State experience here before we give Amanda a chance to tell her story. You said that you grew up elsewhere. You went to school in the United Kingdom for high school. What advice do you have for international students, and particularly international students who are shrier scholars, regardless of which Penn State campus they're at? [00:04:12] Speaker C: I think a lot of international students tend to stick together with people from your own country because you're more comfortable and every day you are exposed to the second language that you may not be so familiar with. But try to engage with american students more. Try to get involved with student associations or anything that could be any kind of associations that's out there, trying to be more active with the school activities and take the best out of what you can get within the system. I think that's very important. [00:04:48] Speaker A: Absolutely. And I think that would even be the same for domestic students, to get to know folks from places that you're. That are different from you. [00:04:55] Speaker C: Yep. [00:04:56] Speaker A: Now, Amanda, your turn. Can you give us your Penn state origin story? [00:05:00] Speaker B: It's more simple. I'm from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. I was a little hesitant to go to Penn State at first because it felt too close to home. A lot of people from my high school went there. I was ready to get out and explore further. But when I got into the shrier's program, it just was the best of all worlds. It was a good financial decision for my family. It was offering the smaller setting, more academic attention and experience of a smaller school, but with all of the options of a big school with a big campus and lots of programs. So I just couldn't refuse that offer to have kind of a little bit of everything. [00:05:45] Speaker A: And if, as you're watching or listening later on, the sirens you just heard were clearly in the district when we recorded. So that wasn't something that you just heard live while you're listening to this, but this was from the recording. So just want to throw that out there in case you were concerned about that noise in the background there. Now, Amanda, you shared with me in advance that you were in a sorority, and I don't know if too many of our scholars take that path to participate in greek life here. So how did you balance the demands with a group like that? Sororities and fraternities take up a lot of time and energy. How did you balance that with all that goes into being a Schreier scholar? [00:06:20] Speaker B: I actually joined the sorority for balance. I liked the idea of having different groups of friends with different interests and different kind of opportunities and activities. So I think it worked well. And by my senior year, I actually had kind of brought both the Shriers friends and the Gamma Phi friends together. And I lived with my two best friends from Shrier's across the hall from my six best friends from the sorority. So it was something I did for balance. [00:06:52] Speaker A: That was not the answer I was expecting. I think that's really cool. So, you know, if you're worrying about being in too many clubs, I think that can be something, but I think it really does help you build that sense of time management and being able to balance your responsibilities, because I imagine, Amanda, that may have impacted how you view work life balance today. Is that a fair guess? [00:07:13] Speaker B: Yeah. That was probably the start of a long path of being a joiner. I was also in the political science association. I wrote for the Daily Collegian, and that kind of continued throughout my career in life. I just like having a hand in everything, I think. [00:07:29] Speaker A: Awesome. And obviously, one of the things that you have to have your hand in as a scholar is completing your honors thesis. So, can each of you tell us about your experience, the topic you researched, but most importantly, how you've leveraged that experience in your career? [00:07:46] Speaker C: Yeah, I think for me, it was the whole process that came with actually writing thesis. You don't just. Maybe some people tell him that. You just write it, and it just comes out brilliantly. But for me, I had to work very closely with the professors, and then he'll push back, hey, you know, you need to do this. And that whole vigorous whole process that prepared me to be a better worker at workplace, I think for me, it was the whole experience of writing the thesis. [00:08:19] Speaker B: My thesis was about something I still think is really cool. The traditional haka dance of the Maori tribes in New Zealand. If you've never seen it before, a rugby match or a soccer game, it's so cool that some multinational companies, sneaker companies, wanted to put it in their commercials. And that raised all sorts of interesting issues about cultural appropriation and exploitation, intellectual property rights, and whether you could have intellectual property rights in something like an ancient dance. So that was a really cool topic to explore, and I think was helping me figure out my interests in law, public policy, international issues. So, still relevant to where I ended up today? [00:09:07] Speaker A: Absolutely. That sounds like something that a student could have written about last year. I think in terms of the IP and the cultural appropriation concerns, certainly, I imagine that would have been very helpful. Now, Yuri, can you walk us through, you know, you write your thesis and then you graduate. So walk us through your early career, how you identify what type of career you wanted to pursue and the steps you took to get on the path that you are now on. [00:09:33] Speaker C: Yes, I came to the United states wanting to do something international, or at least like us Japan relationship type of being a bridge. Right? Because of that, at the beginning of my career at Toyota, I was doing more of like, works that we call them coordinators, people who were sent from Japan to be doing work in Washington. So I was trying to communicate what policies coming out of Washington back to the global headquarters in Tokyo, and communicate what they, their strategy is back here type of thing. Of course, the company evolved as I was here, and that kind of position was no longer needed as we localized and becoming more like an american company. But at least at the beginning, that's. That was my everyday work life. [00:10:30] Speaker A: And, Amanda, kind of the same question for you. Did you always know that you wanted to be an attorney or walk us through, you know, how you decided that in your law school experience, from searching for the school that was the best fit for you to your first roll out of, you know, you passed the bar and move into a paid position? [00:10:50] Speaker B: No, I came to the idea of law school pretty late, probably senior year at Penn State. I took the breadcrumb approach to figuring out what I wanted to be. Kind of figuring out what you don't want to do is just as important, I think sometimes. I always wanted to be a journalist, and the first thing I did at Penn State was sign up to write for the Daily Collegian and start taking communications classes. But luckily, they taught us not just about the skill of journalism, but also about the industry. And it was rapidly changing at the time, from print newspapers, kind of traditional journalism, to tweets and the 24/7 news cycle online. That new reality did not match the romantic idea I had in my head of being kind of a print journalist with the New York Times. So because I was at Penn State and there were so many classes and programs, I was able to pivot, explore new paths where I could kind of keep what I liked about journalism, which was writing, research, current events, politics. And then the Penn State Washington program helped me find housing in DC one summer to do an internship with international trade lobbyists who were lobbying Congress at the time for new trade deals to be passed. And I liked lobbying. I wanted to get even closer to the substance. So my senior year, I took the LSAT and applied to law schools, with the goal of ending up at law school in DC and further pursuing international trade from that angle. Once I got into the best law school in DC, that made that choice easy. And Georgetown attracts a lot of law firm recruiters. So that's how I got my first job out of law school at a big law firm that had a trade group and also a lobbying group. So again, best of both worlds. [00:12:43] Speaker A: Awesome. Now, Yuri, you've shared that you've been with Toyota for quite a while after leaving kind of that early consulting role that you had shared that you were in. What inspired that change? And I guess more importantly, what has kept you at the same company for a bulk of your career? [00:13:01] Speaker C: Yes, Toyota is a great company. A lot of people come here and they never leave, especially in Washington. That's very unusual. They have great respect to people and they have great mentorship program and everybody just loves working for Toyota, within Toyota at least. So I just stayed for this will be 25 years this summer. And of course the work was always interesting as we were going through from like being a visitor in the US type of company to having eleven manufacturing plants in the United States exporting to 60 countries from the United States becoming more global company. And the US was big part of it. So my, I wasn't doing the same thing for 25 years, but I saw all the progress and the changes, and to see that and be part of that change was very exciting. [00:13:57] Speaker A: Definitely. If you can find things, I think that's a typical thing for scholars, is being able to find things that kind of continually reinvigorate you. So maybe you can share just what are some of the different roles that you've had and the responsibilities and what you've learned across the different steps that you've taken to the title that we shared. At the beginning? [00:14:17] Speaker C: Yes, at the beginning. Actually, my position was used to be a position that's held by a japanese person who was sent from Japan, but they decided to localize it. So I got hired to replace that position. But because of that, a lot of work I did for the first six, seven years involved, heavily involved with communicating with the japanese headquarters on a daily basis. And then eventually we became more localized and started to have more plants in the US. We needed to have a bit different type of strategies. We started to hire more local lobbyists to run the lobby shop because the Japanese will not have any idea how to lobby in the US and they shouldn't be doing that. We have a big headquarters for North America and Texas. We have to take care of that headquarters and we need to meet. Also for me, I doing trade and supply chain now. I need to make sure that our export to 60 countries will not face any barriers. When I first started, because we're more like importing company, we didn't have a good relationship with the US government on trade issues. But now, because we export to 60 countries, not just the product, the final vehicles, but also service parts and production parts, we support other plants around the globe by providing production parts from the US as well. Integrated global supply chain. Right. So now from being on the menu to be at the table on the trade issue, not as much as GM, of course, but at least we're making slow progress towards being more part of the american fabric. [00:16:09] Speaker A: Yeah, maybe you can talk a little bit more about that because you mentioned your headquarters is in Texas. If you've listened to the audio episodes, you know that I spent time in Kentucky, not far from a Toyota plant outside of Lexington. And you know, your office is in DC and you have facilities all over the country. So how do you approach lobbying at the federal level versus the state level? Is there a difference in how that works? [00:16:37] Speaker C: Yes. We have eight federal lobbyists and six state lobbyists and state lobbyists. Each of them are located in different area. One is in headquarters in Texas, one is in DC, and then California, Indiana, Kentucky. They have each state lobbyist. They each have like ten states to cover, which I don't know how they do it because I'm only doing federal government. It's just. And just on trade and supply chains. It's already a lot, but they do a fantastic job. So we do separate state and federal. We have different lobbyists covering each issue. We're divided up on the policy side. So as long as it's trade and supply chain. I do both, Senate and the House, Republican and Democrat. I do everybody on those issues. Some places I don't know about. I think GM is the same maybe, but some places they have. Okay, you only do House Republicans on all issues. We don't do that. We first have to be the subject matter experts on the issue that you're covering so you know what you're talking about, and then you communicate to the Congress about your issue. [00:17:50] Speaker A: Amanda, I want to dive more into your story, but first, can you maybe elaborate on how GM compares to Toyota being kind of a classic american company? And maybe there are similarities or differences to how Yuri described what Toyota's model for this? [00:18:07] Speaker B: Yeah. Both are global companies with operations in a lot of different countries. I would say that our office is in DC is structured a little differently and a little bit the same. We have here in the global public policy office an international team, a federal affairs team, and a state and local team, as well as a team for global strategic initiatives that kind of cuts across all different avenues. The federal team is organized by party, so we have Democrats, Democrat lobbyists and republican lobbyists. For me, I'm the lawyer here in the DC office, so I kind of work on both policy and legal. And because I'm an international trade expert, I try to drive the substance on those issues, no matter whether we're working with Democrats or Republicans at the federal level or our state team, our international team. Like Gary said, it's about kind of getting the substance of the message through to whoever your audience may be. [00:19:13] Speaker A: Absolutely. You have to educate people who, maybe a handful of them are experts on this, but most probably have other backgrounds. And you're the expert, not them. Right. But they're the ones voting on these things that impact your business and consumers like us. So I think that makes sense. Now, Amanda, I want to take a step back, hear a little bit about your journey to where you're at today. And similar to Yuri, you made an early career change. You were at a private law firm, but then you decided to totally pivot and go work for the government. So what drew you to public service, and what's the sort of work that you did? And I'm totally going to spoil this for you. Sorry, but in the White House for three different presidents, I liked working at. [00:19:54] Speaker B: The law firm, but my favorite things to work on were public policy and trade deals. So I started reaching out to people who had done a lot of that, and everybody kind of pointed me to the same place, which was a small but powerful trade office within the White House called the Office of the US Trade representative. And it was a big risk, but it was exciting to be able to represent the United States, travel, meet with other countries governments, negotiate the trade deals that, you know, recall my summer internship during Penn State had first gotten me interested in trade and also to be able to bring cases as an attorney in international court courts. We tried cases in Geneva, Switzerland, at the World Trade Organization. So the government job, though, it felt like a little bit of a risk at the time, leaving my law firm job turned out to be the defining experience of my career. And more importantly, I had so much fun doing it. [00:20:57] Speaker A: That is really, really cool. Amanda, what advice do you have for scholars that are interested in pursuing public roles like you had, especially those at the federal level? [00:21:07] Speaker B: Just don't be afraid to reach out, even if it seems like a shot in the dark on LinkedIn and ask for help and advice. Everything in DC happens through connections and relationships. Your big Penn State network could end up being one of your best assets and weapons in whatever you're trying to accomplish. [00:21:26] Speaker A: And if you're watching or listening to this, clearly there's two folks that you can reach out to when you're done engaging with this content. If you haven't already hit the like, subscribe and then connect with them on LinkedIn afterwards. So there's your tasks that will give you some homework at the end here. Now, Yuri, I have a question for you that maybe I'm a little here, but I think everybody on this call has a liberal arts background, but you're in this particularly on the business side of things, with the supply chain. How did you get interested in, particularly in the supply chain side of things, and how did you prepare yourself to execute and lead on these topics without having a business background? [00:22:09] Speaker C: Yes, I was actually a double major with Econ and Polisci, but Econ is definitely not a business major. I chose Econ and policy major because originally I wanted to work for more like international organization, like UN. But then as I started to study more and more about it, I realized, no, I really want to be on the business side. Of course, at Washington is all about policy, so it is like a policy. It is Econ, not business business. Having said that, I realize a lot of companies don't have that direct connection as close as you should be having on the operational side. And there's gap between the policy shop and the operational side. I did some assignment at our headquarters remotely, but to work more closely with our supply chain, people like logistics people, our custom facilitation people to realize what's being discussed in Washington is not always, like, helpful at the operational side, and they're missing big part of what's actually happening on the ground. So I didn't have the business background, but on the job training, sort of, I started to get more involved with the operations side, and that really gave me a much better perspective when I work in Washington on the policy side. [00:23:38] Speaker A: Great. And Amanda, I guess I would ask kind of a similar question to you also being, you know, somebody with a social science background, how did you approach that, especially as you transitioned into a corporate role? [00:23:50] Speaker B: A lot of people in Washington have social science backgrounds. There's a lot of political science majors here, and then you kind of take your path, tailor it from there. So obviously, I had a legal background, a political science background. When I joined General Motors. I didn't know much about the auto industry, but I did know a lot about trade and government affairs. And that is kind of the basis from which I built on my experience by leaning on the expert experts that have been at the company or in the industry for a long time to teach me. So I'm constantly learning. [00:24:28] Speaker A: Awesome. And speaking of learning, you shared in advance that as you transition to this role with GM, that prior to that, you hadn't even had a car as an adult, which I think is kind of funny. So what drew you? You know, first you're at a law firm, then you're at the White House, and now you're at GM. So how did you make that next transition? What inspired you to go to corporate after the other china, two sectors that you were in. And what is like a day to day kind of thing? Like, what is. There's no job where every day is the same, basically, but what's a typical day like? [00:25:02] Speaker B: That's right. I didn't have a car my whole adult life in DC since Penn State. I think I had maybe had one senior year for a little bit at Penn State, but it's more about what you do day to day than your title or what the company does. I was really drawn to the transition the auto industry is currently undergoing to electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, advanced technology. And so I just like to work where there's a lot of action and there's a lot of rich issues in the international space and supply chains to tackle. So, you know, if you love music, working at a record label won't necessarily make you happy if you're doing accounting. And, you know, I don't consider myself a car guy in my personal life, but I'm fascinated by the industry, the history, the transformation, and, you know, what they're trying to do in the face of climate change. So working for a car company right now is just a great opportunity to tackle issues that interest me and make an impact, which is what I'm drawn to more than, you know, the product coming off our line, necessarily. Some of the same reasons I went to government brought me to General Motors. Just a chance to work with smart people on exciting issues and a chance to make a difference. [00:26:15] Speaker A: Excellent. And I think you had some kind of comment that you're kind of like a utility infielder. Is that your words, not mine. Can you explain what you mean by that? As much as I love baseball, I get it, but maybe for others watching or listening that aren't as familiar with. [00:26:33] Speaker B: The diamond, sure, a utility infielder kind of does whatever gets thrown at him. That's kind of how I explain my day to day. Some days it's more typical lawyer work, like negotiating a corporate deal or writing reviewing contracts as a Washington lawyer. Other days it's more like lobbying, persuading the government to take a certain course of action or Congress to pass a bill educating lawmakers and other stakeholders about, you know, consequences of certain policy actions. And some days it's really like weather forecasting, trying to look at politics, world affairs, trying to predict what will happen next and how it's going to impact our business and our industry. [00:27:17] Speaker A: So you've both mentioned kind of working with representatives and senators and, you know, obviously at the state level as well, maybe others on your team. What are some things that actually work to get through to those individuals and help educate them on the topic, even if they don't maybe vote the way you want them to, but how do you get them to pay attention and actually learn from you on these areas where you and your companies are the subject matter experts and trying to get what is best for your company as a constituent. [00:27:49] Speaker C: Yeah, definitely. Natural starting point is the members who are representing the facilities that we have around the country, where we have thousands of employees in his or her district. It's helpful because whatever the policy they're talking about will directly impact those constituents that he or she will have. That's where we start. But then it's just doing a lot of visit on the hill. You just spend a lot of time out there talking to different people, making friends, a lot of in person meetings, and build up the relationship that doesn't happen overnight. They say what, 20,000 lobbyists on the hill or whatever. So you have to kind of compete with all other interests that's representing out there. We do a lot of meetings as much as we can. [00:28:46] Speaker B: I agree. And just keeping up with our fast changing world. In today's world, you know, I missed the news for an hour. I'm already behind at work. So constantly reading, listening, learning, talking to people so that you're able to educate if and when policymakers are interested in learning more about an issue or your perspective and you have a position ready and rationale and, and, you know, facts to back it up. [00:29:13] Speaker A: Yeah, I was going to ask Amanda, and you kind of hit it that like, how do you stay on top of things? Because every level of news from the international and what's happening, you know, at the time of recording, you've got to think about Ukraine and the Red Sea and so many other things. And then you've also got, like Yuri said, you know, the local person at the level of particular factory or supplier and everybody in between. So how do you all stay up to date with that as well as trying to understand the changes in the technology, the design, the engineering that goes into these things as well so that you can, Amanda, to use your term from earlier, a car guy, if you will, for at least in a business and professional capacity, I think it's, you're. [00:30:00] Speaker B: Never going to know everything, but just try your best and then know what you don't know who to ask when you don't know the answer to a question is sometimes just as important. [00:30:10] Speaker C: Yeah. To your point about all the technology changes, there's a lot of stuff that you got to read internally to keep up with your internal development. And then on top of that, we have to follow, like Amanda saying, if you're not reading for an hour, like even on vacation, you're still reading all that stuff because you can't come back and then have 2000 emails sitting. Right. And what's more important is also what's not covered in the news. When you're talking to people directly, that's when you hear about things that's not covered by the news and that's more valuable sometimes. So you have to constantly be engaged in Washington. [00:30:45] Speaker B: That's why we have a lot of cocktail parties here in DC. [00:30:50] Speaker A: Well, kudos to you for doing that. I don't know if I would have the bandwidth to do that. But if you're good at it, then power to you. So if you're a past viewer or listener and you know that I have two guests on here together at the same time. There's got to be some connection, right? I don't just randomly bring on two people together. So knowing you both generally kind of work in the same space. How did you first meet? Because we, you know, there's a lot of Penn staters in DC for sure, but how did you two particularly cross paths? I want to hear how you first met. [00:31:27] Speaker C: Yeah, there's so many trade associations that we both belong to. There are a lot of points where we could have been meeting, but I think we met at maybe wit event. This is women in international trade has like 800 membership in Washington's the largest women in trade association. And I was president of that organization years ago, so I tried to attend as many events as possible, and Amanda is pretty involved in that, too. So I think one of those events that we met and now we see each other all the time, feels like not as much as we should, but. [00:32:05] Speaker B: Yeah, we see each other in DC all the time. Even though, you know, we're competitors in the marketplace, we collaborate on a lot of issues where we have common ground. And I didn't realize we were both Penny until recently. [00:32:18] Speaker A: Yeah, I want to hear more about that. Like, you know, I think most folks would hear, you know, hey, you've got somebody from Toyota and GM on the same show together, and you'd think they're kind of rivals, especially, you know, we're recording this right before the Super bowl and there's gonna be tons of car commercials. You know, they're major players in the auto industry. But there's going to be times when you have to work together as allies, you know, some kind of external threat to your industry as a whole. So how do you approach that dynamic of being both competitors and allies simultaneously? [00:32:50] Speaker B: Carefully and with a sense of humor. [00:32:54] Speaker C: Yeah, and we are part of this association that represents all oems, and we work on the issues that, like environmental issues to safety issues, AI. There are a lot of issues that we do have the same position. A very similar position. And we lobby together. [00:33:15] Speaker B: Yeah, it's a puzzle. You got to figure out what you can work on together and what you can't and can create fun dynamics, but you can usually kind of identify where you align and where you don't. And that's why we have all those cocktail parties. At the end of the day, even if you had, you know, a big fight, you can enjoy each other and find common ground to reset for the next issue. [00:33:37] Speaker C: Yep. [00:33:38] Speaker A: Do you guys bring in folks from like Ford and Honda and Tesla as well into these groups when you're all kind of on the same boat together. [00:33:48] Speaker B: It's a big party. [00:33:50] Speaker A: That's pretty cool. Now, Yuri, you mentioned that you were the president of a professional development group. Can you talk a little bit more about that and why scholars should, no matter what industry that they're going into, should engage in groups like this in their profession? [00:34:05] Speaker C: Yes. A woman in international trade is a group of women, consists of group of women who generally work on the, in the area of trade or international affairs. In Washington, DC, there's an umbrella organization called Organization for Women International trade, and we're part of that. And under that, each region around the globe actually have their own type of organization, and we're the largest in the world, Washington, DC, with around 800 professionals from government to private sectors. So this is a great networking organization. We also have mentorship programs, and then we also have different policy sessions where we invite experts from government or private sectors to talk about certain issues. So this is a really good question. And there are a lot of groups like that in Washington, of course, but this one is just focused on the women in the profession. [00:35:05] Speaker A: And Amanda, you said you were involved as well. So what drew you to connect into that group? [00:35:11] Speaker C: Right. [00:35:11] Speaker B: I'm currently on the board for Women in International trade. I was drawn to the, you know, additional opportunities to get to know women, working on the same stuff I like to work on and to meet in person and to, we have also programs online, which I think is a great way to expand access. You know, this is something good that came out of COVID but it's easier for students and folks in the Pennsylvania area, for example, to kind of access some of these programs and networks now that we do more hybrid offerings. But it's a great group. And just later today, I'm going to participate in a brainstorming session for a scholarship program we have, trying to figure out how to get more young women interested in our field and support them if they want to come to DC and do internships and see what's going on here. [00:36:01] Speaker A: Now a question for both of you and kind of building on some of the things we've already talked about. In addition to networking and joining professional organizations, what kind of skills and experiences should shrier? Scholars look to begin learning or having now in undergrad or maybe right after graduate graduation, if they want to work in roles even relatively similar to yours. [00:36:22] Speaker C: Doing an internship on the Hill is always good. A lot of people, that's where they start, and that's where you get a lot of different experiences and the policy and this is where the policies are made. Right. So it's very exciting place to be doing an internship. And there's always a great opportunities after. A lot of people just move up. They start as an internship and they move up within the office or they get recruited by the private company. So that's a great place to start. [00:36:50] Speaker B: Yeah. And if you can't come to DC for a summer, which is expensive, and often these internships are unpaid, I would say read, get engaged in local politics so that you can still kind of plug into that world and then spend some time in DC, even if it's through one of these hybrid programs or for, you know, a certain event, make sure you like it. [00:37:11] Speaker A: And if you are looking to do an internship, obviously you probably know that we have study abroad funding, which is not a topic we've really talked about today, but we also do have internship grants that you as a scholar can apply for to help offset the cost of something like spending a summer in DC. So maybe plug in with groups like the two of you have been involved with that have scholarships as well outside of the university. So I'm not an expert in, in international trade, lobbying, anything that you both do on a daily basis. So what should I have asked about that? I just neglected to, from my own lack of understanding, or maybe a friendlier way to ask this question would be what are the kinds of questions you get from mentees, interns, junior staff or friends about what you do? [00:37:58] Speaker C: Well, when it comes to trade policies, I think this year being the presidential election year, it's very, I'd say we shouldn't get into that here. It's just too complicated. And I'm sure we have people from both sides listening to it. But on the job itself, I get a lot of questions from students, current students. I get people from Penn State, Behrend policy students. My professors brings the kids down every year and I host them in my office to talk about my career and things like that. And every time somebody always asks me is that, should I go to grad school right away or shall I get a job? I went to school right away, grad school right away, which I kind of regret. I should have worked first. [00:38:52] Speaker B: Me too. [00:38:53] Speaker C: Right? My mother said, if you didn't go to grad school right away, you are never going to go to grad school because I know you so good to go to school right away. So I did. But I was still in this academic world, right? And then after I started to work, I was like, ah, that's what I was saying. You know, it just started to connect. But it was kind of. I was relearning again. Had I worked first and then went back to the grad school, I think I would have understood more about what I was learning and I think I would have made more out of it. [00:39:28] Speaker B: Yeah, I agree. Maybe don't wait too long. Yuri's mom might be right about that. But I wish I had taken at least a year off between Penn State and law school and not done even an internship in DC or an office job. Just like anything anywhere else. Just, you know, bartended or volunteered or got a job in a different industry just to have that experience before I continue down my path in law school. But since Yuri brought up the election year and this is DC and politics is a huge part of what we do, I'll go there a little bit. When I was more so at my last job, often asked how you deal with working for leaders you don't agree with politically. I worked for three presidents, both Democrat and Republican. And I think, you know, everyone has their own approach and I think I can work well with anyone if they're smart and respectful. Particularly. My job was to make sure whatever decision they made, they had all the info, pros and cons options. Your client is the country when you're working for the government, not any one person. So don't be discouraged if you're thinking about coming to DC but your guy doesn't win the next election. There's still a lot of opportunities, especially learning opportunities. Sometimes that's where the best learning opportunities are, in an adverse environment that challenges you. [00:40:49] Speaker A: I think that's very insightful, especially this year. Now we're going to do some rapid fire reflection questions, so I want each of you to answer both of these. First, what would you say is your biggest success to date for each of you? [00:41:04] Speaker C: So for me, it's not like one big single event, but like a whole achievement of bringing Toyota to be a guest and be on the menu on the trade issue, to be more like at least be part of being at the table and to get there. There are so many different little things that we had to do, like, you know, demonstrating localizations and all these educating the policymakers, exporting from the US, all these things. But it's a huge transition that I've seen in the last 25 years. That's the biggest change that I've seen within the company. [00:41:44] Speaker B: I'd say my biggest success is finding a career I love and never dreading. [00:41:49] Speaker A: Mondays, those are both great. And if you can avoid the Sunday stares. That's a win. On the flip side, though, for both of you, what would you say is the biggest transformational learning moment that you've had in your career and what you've learned from it? [00:42:05] Speaker C: It's actually the same thing for me. It's, like incremental for me because of the mentorship program, that informal formal mentorship program that Toyota has. I learned so much when I first started, I became a completely different person. I was like, wow, I wish I had these advices growing up. I would have probably been so much better person. And it's just I was very grateful for all these opportunities that I had, and it was just incremental experience, a transformational learning moment. [00:42:41] Speaker B: My first boss told me that I was good when I was super interested in something, and I wasn't as good when I wasn't as interested, and that was transformational. I left that job and focused on stuff I was most interested in so I could be my best. [00:42:56] Speaker A: I have a sneaking system suspicion, Amanda, that that is probably something that applies to a lot of Shrier's dollars. So myself included that, that I feel seen when you said that one. Now, Yuri, you just mentioned mentorship in your last question, but I always like to ask because it hasn't come up terribly heavy in the conversation. How do each of you approach mentorship as both a mentor but also a mentee? Because no matter what stage of your career, you can be both simultaneously. [00:43:26] Speaker C: Yeah, I definitely have few executives that I always, it's, for me, it's a go to mentors. Right. And. But I also love mentoring younger generations because I want to make sure that they don't make the same mistake that I made and, you know, get there quicker. I enjoy mentoring now. My son is, like, 18 and, you know, going to college, so he's getting into the age that's closer to who I mentor. To me, it's more like, okay, now I'm mentoring my kids. I feel like, and I need to raise the next generation of younger kids. And it's fun for me. [00:44:05] Speaker B: I'm always open to help because a lot of people helped me, but my advice would be just approach those opportunities as a learning experience, not trying to get something out of it or out of that person. Kind of ask questions, ask for advice. Leave it open as to whether and how they can or will help you. So don't ask, you know, get me this job necessarily, but people are willing to help if you leave them the space to kind of do it their way. [00:44:34] Speaker A: Are there any professors or friends from your scholar days that you would like to give a shout out to here before we wrap up? [00:44:40] Speaker C: Yes, definitely. Doctor Gamble, who retired from Penn State Behrend State a few years ago, but he was my thesis professor, Doctor Spiel who brings kids down to Washington from Penn State Erie every year and Doctor Louie from econ department. And, you know, so many more people that it's going to take forever to thank. [00:45:05] Speaker B: But yeah, I'll just say hi to Candice and Lauren. They were the first girls I met at Penn State in the honors door. We're still friends today. [00:45:13] Speaker A: I love that. Great faculty, great friends. Definitely some of the unsung parts of being a scholar. Now, as we're wrapping up, what is a final piece of advice that each of you would leave for our students? Whether that's something to make the most of their time here in the honors college, something for their career, or maybe a little bit of both. [00:45:31] Speaker C: Just be curious, be involved, be active, just never have any regret. Just do as much as you can. Life is short, right? You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. Be at 100% all the time. [00:45:45] Speaker B: I wish I had told myself as a young scholar, just enjoy this time academically and personally. Your career will develop and evolve over the next decades, not the next four years. That's what I wish I had told myself to just enjoy a little more. [00:46:01] Speaker A: All around solid advice from the both of you there to leave off with. If a scholar does want to pick up this conversation with either or both of you, what are the best ways that they can connect with you after the fact? [00:46:15] Speaker B: LinkedIn. [00:46:16] Speaker C: LinkedIn. [00:46:18] Speaker A: Excellent. Not shocker. That's usually the answer here on the show, is LinkedIn. So. And finally, this is the hardest question you are going to be asked today. I guarantee it. If each of you were a flavor of berkey creamery ice cream, which would you be? And most importantly, as scholar alumnae, why would you be that flavor? [00:46:39] Speaker C: I'm not an ice cream person. Butter pecan is definitely my go to. [00:46:46] Speaker B: I am missing that marshmallow. It's cold here. I can't wait for summer s'mores. [00:46:52] Speaker A: But Yuri, why? Why butter pecan? I think you might be the first butter pecan we've had. [00:46:57] Speaker C: Oh, really? [00:46:58] Speaker A: Yeah. What, what is it about that one? [00:47:00] Speaker C: It's more like. Less like ice cream to me. [00:47:03] Speaker A: That is a new one. And Amanda, I think that's great. I, you know, we're recording here in the depths of February, so by the time you're watching or listening this, I think it might be s'more season. So I think enjoy that flavor. Both good choices. And thank you for picking some new ones. I don't think we've gotten those ones terribly often. So we've had a great conversation here with Yuri Uno and Amanda Blossom of Toyota North America and General Motors, respectively, joining us from Washington, DC. You heard how to get in touch with them. If you want to follow up, as soon as you hit that like or subscribe button on your platform that you're engaging with us. Thank you so much to the both of you for your time. We really appreciate all of your awesome insights and great creamery selections. I will let you have the last word here today. [00:47:47] Speaker B: Just thank you, Sean, and see you soon. [00:47:50] Speaker C: Yuri, thank you. Thank you. Enjoyed it.

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