Mazda Motor Corp. has promoted non-Japanese Gregory Young as the general manager of global corporate communications effective July 2, an uncommon move for a Japanese firm. Young is the replacement for Keiichi Wakabayashi, who is transferring to Volvo Cars Japan to head its marketing division.
However, Young is different from the foreigners who have worked at Mazda's Hiroshima headquarters in the past few years since he comes from Mazda rather than Ford Motor Co. In 1991, Mazda hired Young to initiate the company's public relations operations in his domestic market of Canada. He moved to Japan in 2011 as the deputy general manager of corporate communications.
Mazda produces 70% of its cars in Japan; however, overseas sales make up 83% of its total global sales. The promotion of Young is aimed partly to promote improved communication with that customer base. It’s somewhat of an anomaly in Japan’s auto industry for a foreigner to be leading corporate communications. In fact, there’s only one other company to do so.
Nissan Motor Co.’s global communications have long been led by British Simon Sproule. But then, Nissan offers a far more global flavor than Mazda. Renault SA holds 44% of Nissan. Renault is led by Carlos Ghosn, a foreigner too. Around 48% of the top 100 executives in Nissan are non-Japanese.