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Toyota’s top female exec resigns

Short term: Julie Hamp’s rise as the first woman to reach managing officer level at TMC was short-lived after informing the company of her intention to resign in the wake of her arrest in Japan last month.

Top female executive at Toyota, Julie Hamp, steps down following arrest in Japan

2 Jul 2015

TOYOTA Motor Corporation’s top female executive, Julie Hamp, has resigned following her arrest last month for allegedly importing a banned painkiller into Japan.

As GoAuto reported in April, Ms Hamp became the first woman to reach managing officer level at the company and the first female non-Japanese senior executive, relocating from Texas to Toyota City as chief communications officer responsible for public affairs and external affairs worldwide.

On June 18, however, she was arrested after Japanese customs officers found oxycodone tablets – prescription medication that requires official approval before being brought in to Japan, and must be carried by the individual – in a package shipped to her from the United States.

She has been in police custody since then, without charge, and can be held for up to 20 days after her arrest.

In a statement released overnight, TMC said it had “received notification” from Ms Hamp of her intent to resign.

“TMC has accepted her resignation after considering the concerns and inconvenience that recent events have caused our stakeholders,” the company said.

“Because the investigation of Ms Hamp is ongoing, there is little Toyota can say at this time. However, we intend to learn from this incident to help ensure a secure working environment for everyone at Toyota around the world as we continue to take the steps necessary to become a truly global company.

“We remain firmly committed to putting the right people in the right places, regardless of nationality, gender, age and other factors.”

TMC president Akio Toyoda said on June 19 – the day after Ms Hamp’s arrest – that “in addition to being a close friend of mine, Julie Hamp is an invaluable member of Toyota’s team”.

“We are confident that once the investigation is complete, it will be revealed that there was no intention on Julie’s part to violate any law,” he said.

Overseas reports indicate that Ms Hamp was unaware, before her arrest, that she had imported an illegal substance.

Senior managing officer Shigeru Hayakawa will take over Ms Hamp’s duties until a replacement is appointed.

Ms Hamp’s promotion was a key posting as the global automotive giant announced its intention to increase diversity and “to foster innovation”.

At the same time, Europe boss Didier Leroy – a French national – was appointed board member and executive vice-president overseeing Toyota’s business in developed regions, namely North America, Europe and Japan.

In the process, he became TMC’s first non-Japanese EVP and only the second non-Japanese executive on the company’s 12-member board, joining former General Motors veteran Mark Hogan who gained a seat in 2013.

TMC also named its first African-American managing officer in April, with North American legal chief Chris Reynolds taking on the newly created global position of general counsel and chief legal officer.

Ms Hamp joined Toyota in 2012 after a five-year stint as chief communications officer for PepsiCo, having earlier served for 25 years with GM in key PR and sales and marketing roles in the US, Europe and other markets.

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