Day in the Life

From hazardous material engineering to running Truist Foundry: A day in the life of Lindsay Holden, head of Truist Foundry

  • Many paths can lead to a career in financial services. Head of Truist Foundry, Lindsay Holden's journey began as a hazardous materials engineer.
  • Craving work that gave her more flexibility, Holden eyed entrepreneurship and eventually built Long Game, which was acquired by Truist last year and relaunched as Truist Long Game.

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From hazardous material engineering to running Truist Foundry: A day in the life of Lindsay Holden, head of Truist Foundry

Not all who end up in financial services start out with that aim. Lindsay Holden, head of Truist Foundry, a startup by Truist, and the founder of Long Game, started her career as a hazardous material engineer only to find herself gravitating towards entrepreneurship as time went on.

Holden is a math geek, but her father didn’t think a degree in mathematics would be too practical. “You're such a young person when you're making those decisions, which is so crazy,” said Holden, and that led her to studying chemical and environmental engineering in her undergrad. Her first rodeo was as a hazardous material engineer, but something was missing.

“For me, at that time in my life, I wanted to have more flexibility in my career, more creativity, and more impact. The ability to create something that was going to be more impactful and, so I started studying entrepreneurship,” she said.

Lindsay Holden

Her first idea for a company wasn’t a game or even related to economics but was instead about nano catalysts, a technology that came out of Colorado School of Mines to help transform CO2 into methane. She made progress but wasn’t ready to bite the start up bullet yet. “I didn't know the first thing about entrepreneurship. I just felt like I was not able to do it,” she said.

Keeping her startup dream alive but on the backburner, Holden joined a VC in Silicon Valley. This is where she found the tools she needed to be confident in her entrepreneurial dreams. Shortly after, Holden and her friend started a domain auction company based on principles of behavioral economics, called Innovative Auctions. The company did well, “we sold a lot of these domains and became a really professional shop,” she added.

By now, Holden had not only bitten the startup bullet but built something out of her first foray into entrepreneurship. Her experience in building a company from the ground up and applying principles of behavioral economics to practical applications gave her all the building blocks she needed for Long Game. “It was another behavioral economics application, which I thought worked so well with Innovative Auctions,” said Holden. 

A John Oliver episode on lottery and the behavioral economics concept of “prize linked savings” were the catalysts that brought Long Game to life.

Long Game rewards clients for behaviors that promote financial wellness, like saving or engaging with financial education materials. It was in the market for about 7 years before Truist acquired it last year. Recently, the bank relaunched it under “Truist Long Game”, with Holden as the head of Truist Foundry, a startup at the heart of Truist. “You're actually changing your life by saving, but like you think you could change your life by winning,” said Holden, summarizing the concept behind the game.

Based in San Francisco, Holden travels to Charlotte once a month, where Truist Foundry has a strong presence. Although a largely remote team, Truist is now emphasizing the in-person culture, and is opening a new office in San Francisco. This is where Holden expects to be spending quite a bit of her workdays in the recent future.

On her days off, Holden loves to cook and host, and spends some time reading and listening to podcasts. Of particular interest are the implications AI will have for humanity. “How we look at ourselves as human beings is interesting, and what that means for our future. I've been geeking out on that stuff,” she said. True to her environmental engineering background, Holden is also very interested in climate change and the adoption of solar energy.

Perhaps informed by her own journey in STEM and entrepreneurship, another topic that is close to her heart is the role of women in tech. “Demystifying the work that we are doing. It's achievable to be an entrepreneur and listen, my life has not been what I would say completely, traditional on paper. There is a lot of intention behind the choices that I've made in my life and what I want to focus on and what I want to contribute,” Holden said.

Untraditional though her journey has been, Holden is a good example of how different paths can lead to a career in financial services and the results the industry can see when women act on their entrepreneurial ambitions.  

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