| NAGOYA, Japan, July 23
NAGOYA, Japan, July 23 Mark Hogan, a former
General Motors Co executive, says he often chided Toyota
Motor Corp for its weakness in fast-growing Brazil and
Argentina despite having reached the No. 1 spot in the global
To address perceived weak spots including an insular
management style, the Japanese corporate giant has in recent
months brought an infusion of outsiders - including Hogan - to
its inner circle and put a foreigner in full control of its
operations in Latin America, as well as several other overseas
Akio Toyoda, Toyota's president and grandson of the
company's founder, has set out to open up the ranks of top
management after concluding that Toyota had become too big and
global for its traditionally closed and centrally controlled
Toyota's management structure came under fire for its
response to deadly accidents in the United States and ensuing
recalls of millions of vehicles at the end of the last decade,
which centred around cases of unintended acceleration.
Executives at the headquarters in Toyota city, near Nagoya
in central Japan, did not communicate well with U.S. staff, and
decisions, made mostly at headquarters, came too late.
Hogan, 62, was one of three outside board members Toyota
appointed in June - the first such appointments in its
76-year-history and only the second non-Japanese to serve on the
Nicholas Benes, representative director of The Board
Director Training Institute of Japan, said research shows that
the most successful global companies employ more foreigners on
their board or in senior positions as their overseas sales
Toyota has only one foreigner on its 16-person board, but
makes 75 percent of its sales abroad.
The Toyota group has more room to grow abroad - as Hogan's
chiding about Latin America suggests - and new markets will be
key to achieving growth targets including a record 9.91 million
vehicle sales globally in 2013.
Brazil's auto market has more than doubled since 2005 and is
now the world's fourth largest, but Toyota's market share there
has been stuck around 3 percent, compared with nearly 15 percent
in the U.S. market.
"One of the few weaknesses of Toyota in the past, it's been
rather methodical, slow decision making process that eventually
ended up here in Japan at all decisions no matter how global
they were," Hogan told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday
Hogan said that, in addition to providing an outsider's
objective perspective to board discussions, he has been asked by
Toyoda to help the company expand in Latin America by advising
the recently appointed foreign executive overseeing the region.
Hogan, the only non-Japanese among the three new outside
directors, had worked at a Toyota-GM joint venture in California
during his time at GM.
He is not the first non-Japanese to serve on Toyota's board,
however. Jim Press, a soft-spoken man from Kansas who spent 37
years at Toyota, left abruptly to work for Chrysler in September
2007 just months after joining the Toyota board.
Toyota is late in the game in bringing in external directors
among Japanese companies, which have typically been considered
more insular than global manufacturers in the West.
Of companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's first
section, 54.2 percent had outside directors in 2012, up from
43.7 percent in 2008, according to a TSE study.
But Toyota is still hardly a model of diversity. Among 68
top executives, only seven are non-Japanese and just one, a
corporate auditor, is female.