Toyota Motor Corp. promoted a French national and an American woman to unprecedented executive roles, marking a shake-up in management ranks dominated by male Japanese.
Didier Leroy, 57, head of Toyota Europe since 2010, will become one of six executive vice presidents as of April 1, the company said Wednesday.
Julie Hamp, head of communications for North America, will be made managing officer and become the first female to hold a high-ranking post in Toyota’s 77-year history.
Leroy’s elevation underscores President Akio Toyoda’s push to remold the company founded by his grandfather after being humbled by a global quality crisis soon after taking over.
The promotion of Hamp marks just the third time a woman has been made an executive at one of Japan’s largest carmakers, a reflection of slow progress for an industry known as a boys club before Mary Barra’s ascent to the top job at General Motors Co.
Recalls of more than 10 million vehicles for unintended acceleration in 2009 and 2010 led Toyoda to delegate more autonomy to overseas regional units with the aim of speeding up responses to safety issues and better tailoring the design and engineering of its cars to local tastes.
Leroy was among those executives given additional responsibility in the wake of the recalls, taking on the role of chief quality officer in 2010. He retained the title when he was appointed president of Toyota Europe.
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