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Employer Focus: Toyota GB

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Toyota (GB) PLC is the National Sales and Marketing Centre for Toyota and Lexus in the United Kingdom and is based at their landmark headquarters in Surrey. With responsibility for all aspects of the Toyota and Lexus franchises in the UK, sales performance in recent years has consolidated the UK's position as one of Toyota's strongest European markets.

Toyota is one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in the world, and vehicles are built in 29 countries and sold in more than 170. However with this size comes a responsibility to their customers, the planet and to society. They are world leaders in hybrid technology and aim for growth in harmony with the environment by seeking to minimize the environmental impact of our business, such as working to reduce the effect of their vehicles and operations on climate change and biodiversity. They strive to develop, establish and promote technologies enabling the environment and economy to coexist harmoniously and to build close and cooperative relationships with individuals and organizations involved in environmental preservation.

Rachel Grace, Human Resources Specialist at Toyota (GB), says the Company's vision stems from their Japanese head office.

"Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Corporation's President has a vision that we help leave the planet in a better place than we found it," she says.

"A factor that makes Toyota stand out is the sense of doing the right thing and being a company that wants to make a difference in the right way. It means making the right choice, not always the easy choice and that comes right from our global head office in Japan."

Rachel says Toyota's ethos is evident in their innovative vehicles.

"We launched the Prius in 1997 when people had no experience of hybrid vehicles and with that came some scepticism. Now nearly 20 years on Toyota has sold more than three million Prius and nine million hybrid vehicles in total. Last year we launched the new Mirai, a hydrogen-powered vehicle producing zero-emissions. Mirai mean "the future" in Japanese."

Rachel goes on to say: "Our environmental goals, as well as sales and marketing objectives, are just as fundamental to the business as any other."

Wholly owned by Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan, Toyota (GB) is responsible for all aspects of sales and marketing for Toyota and Lexus brands in the UK and both dealer franchises. Approximately 350 people work from its offices in Epsom. Rachel says "It embodies all the Japanese principles within a smaller company culture- which personally I love."

Such principles influence the way it operates. Rachel says one of the key concepts making Toyota and Toyota (GB) so successful is Kaizen, the Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement.

"Our Kaizen concept is looking at how you can always improve, but it is really important to understand that doesn't mean changing things for the sake of it. What it means is asking 'How can we make this the best process?"

"Kaizen also feeds into other Japanese concepts at Toyota (GB), like Nemawashi - which means you gather support and feedback by sharing information. We also want people to go and see, find out first hand and get to the source of the problem - which is Genchi Genbutsu."

One final concept involves everyone working together and trusting each other's decisions.

"This is Consensus - it has a slightly different meaning to the English translation," she says.

"Consensus means building relationships, networking and making sure everyone understands the collective goal - they may not always agree, but understand the reasons why and hopefully this will enable them to support you."

The concepts set in place at Toyota (GB) have created a welcoming and supportive company culture. Rachel says it's unlike anywhere else she has worked.

"I love the culture here at Toyota (GB). We have a very supportive philosophy and it is one of the safest places I've worked," she says. "This is not because we make easy choices, but if things get difficult we pull together more than anywhere else I've experienced."

Toyota (GB) recruits using its Student Placements programme which allows university students to join the company for a year. Some then have opportunity to apply for the graduate scheme which enables them to join the company on completion of their university degree.

Rachel says careers at Toyota (GB) can offer students real variety.

"Jobs here aren't linear. For example, students don't necessarily join as a junior financial accountant and then continue to work their way up that particular ladder. They may start in finance and progress into sales, switch to technology and then enter into marketing."

Toyota (GB) also invests in its employees to ensure they understand their role and their contribution.

"Everyone has their own personal objectives and our students have clear goals to work towards through the course of their placement year," Rachel says.

"It's made clear how their objectives fit into both the departmental and company ones, which in turn fit with the overall objectives of Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan."

"All this means our employees can see how their job at a desk in Surrey helps make an impact on the strategy set by Toyota's head office in Japan."

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