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Toyota shuffles top management deck

Three into one: Europe chief Didier Leroy is set to take on a wide range of responsibilities for Toyota in key markets that were previously split between three executives.

Milestone non-Japanese appointments at Toyota increase diversity, foster innovation

6 Mar 2015

TOYOTA Motor Corporation has made substantial changes to its global senior management team, with the world’s biggest auto-maker promoting several executives from outside Japan – including Europe boss Didier Leroy and North American public relations chief Julie Hamp – to key positions in an effort to increase diversity and “to foster innovation”.

Pending approval at TMC’s annual shareholders meeting in June, Mr Leroy, a French national, will move from his current role as Europe region chief executive to board member and executive vice-president overseeing Toyota’s business in developed regions, namely North America, Europe and Japan.

The appointment puts him in charge of all R&D, manufacturing and sales operations for North America, Europe and Africa, the Japan ‘sales business group’, and product planning, design and motorsport across these regions – a wide range of duties previously split between three executive vice-presidents (EVPs).

In the process, Mr Leroy will become the 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.

Ms Hamp will become the first woman to reach managing officer level at the company and the first female non-Japanese senior executive with her move from Texas to Toyota City as chief communications officer responsible for public affairs and external affairs worldwide.

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.

In another milestone appointment, Toyota has also named its first African-American managing officer, with North American legal chief Chris Reynolds taking on the newly created global position of general counsel and chief legal officer.

 center imageLeft: Toyota general counsel and chief legal officer Chris Reyolds. For Australia, two key structural changes to be implemented next month will affect Toyota operations here.

There will no longer be an executive vice-president specifically assigned to the Australian market, with the company handing each EVP broader responsibility in overseeing TMC in its entirety, “carrying out operations and administration from a mid-to-long-term perspective”.

In turn, greater decision-making authority will be handed to executives at senior managing officer level and below across Toyota’s various business units, regional operations – including Australia – and key functions.

This is designed to enable “prompt decision-making” and allow those responsible “to make proactive decisions based on realities on the ground” – and for the East Asia and Oceania region, which includes Australia, a new managing officer has been appointed: Shinya Kotera.

Previously a chief officer in corporate planning, Kotera-san will replace Toshiro Hidaka.

TMC said in a statement that “by appointing talented people from affiliates outside Japan to executive positions, Toyota aims to foster innovation by enabling people from many different backgrounds to contribute and provide input”.

The moves affecting North American personnel in particular reflect the company’ s “ongoing efforts to diversify its global leadership team and leverage talent from its biggest, most experienced market as it continues to evolve as a global, customer-focused company”.

“Bringing together an experienced and diverse team of executives with fresh perspectives, unique regional insights and a global mindset will help us better serve customers around the world,” said TMC president Akio Toyoda.

“Our new appointments also put in place a broader base of support for North America CEO Jim Lentz as he continues to build upon the strong momentum he has achieved with dealers and customers in this key market.” Amid various changes in North America, Mr Lentz now adds responsibility for Toyota’s manufacturing operations in the region.

Mr Leroy will remain based at Toyota’s European headquarters in Brussels. He will be appointed chairman of Toyota Motor Europe (TME), while Africa region chief Johan van Zyl will become president and CEO of the Europe region and TME (in addition to his current duties).

The developed regions for which Mr Leroy is now responsible is one of four main business units put in place by TMC in 2013 in an attempt to speed up decision-making.

The others cover Lexus, rest-of-world markets (China, Asia and Middle East, East Asia and Oceania, and Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean), and “unit- related” operations covering major powertrain components such as engines and transmissions.

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