Incoming Toyota President Akio Toyoda Planning To Axe Management?
By David Surace
Bloomberg is reporting that Toyota’s in-bound President Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company’s original founder Kiichiro Toyoda, plans to replace most of Toyota’s current management structure when he comes into office in June to take the place of outbound president Katsuake Watanabe, according to “people […] who asked not to be identified because the changes haven’t yet been announced”. According to those same sources, Watanabe would then stay on board to become vice chairman.
The axe-swinging is most likely related to the recent operating losses and drop in sales (some 15% last year), and would involve not only the company’s other four executive VP’s, but also almost all of the nineteen senior managing directors on staff. Whether they would end up at other posts within the company or sacked altogether isn’t clear.
Akio’s own father, Honorary Chairman Shoichiro Toyoda, and Advisor Hiroshi Okuda may have already agreed to step down voluntarily, according to a release by Chairman Fujio Cho on the 20th of this month.
This is actually somewhat consistent with Japan’s current economic climate and corporate culture, not only in a modern-day context (the Bloomberg article cites similar head-loppings at Mizuho Financial and Sanyo Electric, both companies facing the same losses this year), but also from within Toyoda’s own family; Kiichiro Toyoda, Akio’s grandfather and the automotive company’s original founder, voluntarily resigned alongside his fellow executives in 1948 when the company faced similarly flagging profits, which resulted in massive layoffs and an impending strike. He died of a stroke four years later, never to see his company’s massive spike in profitability in 1959, which continued unbroken until last year.
Toyota Corporate and Toyota of North America are still declining to comment on any changes in the company’s management.
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