How Mark Hogan became first board outsider at Toyota

Article by Anita Panait, on July 29, 2013

Mark Hogan recently became the first outsider board member at Toyota Motors Corp. How he exactly caught the eye of Toyota President Akio Toyoda has been one of the questions that have been baffling many. Almost three decades ago, both Toyota and Hogan served on the board of the defunct New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. site that was operated jointly by General Motors and Toyota in Fremont, California.

Apparently, candid discussions on the board got Hogan noticed by Toyoda. Last week, Hogan remarked at his first public appearance since joining Toyota in June that they used to have “rather pointed discussions” about the way that NUMMI operated, with perhaps their own company's perspective in mind.

He remarked that those candid discussions “led to a very strong belief in each other's opinions about the auto industry." In 1986, GM hired Hogan as a "NUMMI commando" to flush out secrets of the Toyota Way at the site.

Now, Hogan’s role has reversed. He is now tasked to infuse the American way of doing business into Toyota. He was asked by Toyota to do what he used to do during his NUMMI days – giving straight talks and frank opinions.

Hogan remarked that Toyoda “wanted a clear, unfiltered perspective." He remarked that he sees his role as “listening to global voices outside of Japan and then sharing insights that will help Toyota respond more quickly to changes in society."

Hogan will also play another role at Toyota, which is to revitalize the carmaker’s lackluster business in Latin America. He is suitable for such role as he once led GM’s operations in Brazil. He remarked that he was disappointed that Toyota has "underperformed" in Brazil and Argentina. Hogan will serve as a mentor to Steve St. Angelo, who from April 1, 2013, became as Toyota's first non-Japanese regional chief executive for Latin America and the Caribbean. [source: automtive news - sub. required]

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