TOKYO — Just three months ago, Akio Toyoda sent shock waves through Toyota Motor Corp., promoting three non-Japanese executives to top positions at headquarters in an effort to make the company’s leadership reflect its global reach.
Yet a pair of culture clashes last week suggest that the Toyota chief’s effort to shake up the company won’t be easy.
Leroy: Miffs Japanese dealers
On Tuesday, Didier Leroy, a Frenchman who was appointed in March to become Toyota Motor Corp.’s first non-Japanese executive vice president, came un
Two days later, global communications chief Julie Hamp, an American who was named Toyota’s first senior-level female executive in March, was arrested at a Tokyo hotel for allegedly importing a narcotic painkiller in an apparent violation of Japan’s strict drug laws.
The stumbles with two high-profile foreign executives cast a pall over what had been a bold move forward in the internationalization of the world’s biggest automaker. The company’s outward-looking leader had elevated Hamp, Leroy and others, including an African-American executive, in the hope of injecting fresh thinking and wider global perspective into an upper management long dominated by older Japanese men. The aim of the March shake-up was to make the world’s largest automaker more representative of the global markets it serves.
der fire at the annual shareholder meeting from dealers who were miffed that he speaks little Japanese. It was the first time a non-Japanese executive had addressed shareholders at Toyota’s annual meeting.