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Toyota promotes non-Japanese to help oversee structural overhaul
[TOKYO] Toyota Motor Corp is handing non-Japanese executives major promotions in the third overhaul of its complex business structure in six years, as President Akio Toyoda seeks ways to make the world's largest automaker more nimble.
Didier Leroy, who was appointed the company's highest- ranking non-Japanese executive a year ago, will add the newly created title of chief competitive officer, Toyota said Wednesday in a statement. Steve St Angelo, who helped steer the carmaker through its unintended acceleration crisis, will rise to senior managing officer.
Leroy and St Angelo will be among the senior executives overseeing the creation of seven business units now tasked with product strategy and development, whose responsibilities range from compact cars to commercial vehicles and Lexus luxury models. Toyoda, 59, pledged last year to continue diversifying his executive team comprised mostly of long-tenured Japanese men, even after the June arrest of Julie Hamp, whom the company named its first female managing officer two months earlier.
"This structural change may not be the ultimate solution, but it is certainly an opportunity," Toyoda said in the statement. "Whether or not this structural change turns out to be the right solution or not is in our hands." Women, though, remain absent from Toyota's executive ranks after Hamp's resignation last year. She had spent 20 days in detention on suspicion of violating Japan's drug laws by importing the pain medication oxycodone before being released without charges.