Addressing a ceremony usually held on April 1 of every year to welcome new employees at its headquarters in Toyota City, Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota shared his thoughts with those present drawing on what he had read called “Nine reasons that people gather”.
He said that during the pandemic, people chose to connect through digital technology, and avoided human contact. According to Toyoda, it was time to see the benefits of meeting and communicating in person, even as he urged new employees to re-establish a contact with their fellow staffers.
In his speech, Toyoda asked employees to “Make Toyota a place where people gather together”. Elaborating on this, he said, “People gather where they can dream” and “People gather in search of spirit”.
Even in this digital age, he believed that these nine reasons are why people gather remained as relevant as ever. He told his new staff that he wanted to make Toyota a place where people gather and to put things in context Toyoda explained, “When our company founder Kiichiro Toyoda took on the challenge of creating an automobile business, these were his words: It is not just about making automobiles. With Japanese ideas and skills, we must create an automobile industry for Japan.”
He reminisced on why the founder’s words held so much value. “This was an age when people said the Japanese can’t make cars because neither Toyota nor the country as a whole were financially or technologically advanced. Undaunted, Kiichiro was committed to domestic production and searched for like-minded peers who could make parts for his cars. This is what he said to those partner companies: ‘We are all in this together.’ That, he said, “was our starting point at Toyota. I believe that is why we need to be a place where people gather as one. Today, as many as 60,000 suppliers work together to make Toyota vehicles”.
Toyoda said that as the company tries to do its bit to create a carbon-neutral society, cars are currently undergoing a great transformation, “All vehicles must become battery electric vehicles. Toyota’s cars are used by customers worldwide in all kinds of environments including deserts and sub-zero temperatures. Toyota’s cars sustain people’s lives and livelihoods.”
Outlining the company’s future goals, Toyoda said, “Toyota is a global company with a full line-up of products. We need to achieve carbon neutrality while keeping as many options as possible open for our customers around the world. That’s why, whether in battery electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles or hydrogen-powered cars, we are putting our best efforts into all options.”
Finding enjoyment in what one does is primary, according to Toyoda, “If I were to add a tenth ‘Reason that People Gather,’ it would be this: People gather where joy abounds,” he said.
He ended his note with three requests. Firstly, develop a love for cars. Secondly, for the first three years, throw yourself into your work and try to enjoy all that comes your way... and thirdly, do not be afraid of failure.
He signed off with the reassurance to his employees “You are not alone. At Toyota, we are all in this together.”
The feature was first published in Autocar Professional's April 15, 2022 issue.