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A Conversation With Toyota's Emily Lauder


The co-hosted AIAG/AAMA Southern Automotive Quality Summit (SAQS) is fast approaching! In anticipation of the event, we connected with our opening OEM speaker, Emily Lauder – vice president of administration, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi – for industry insights, informed advice and more.

Read on to hear Emily’s thoughts, and make sure to join us in Alabama on March 5th as she takes the stage to discuss “Talent Acquisition and Retention.”

AIAG: How has the industry changed since you started?

Lauder: Our mobility habits have changed, so technology has changed. From autonomous driving vehicles to automation on the production line to using research to help develop a more mobile society overall, technology is the leading factor for everything we do today.

When it comes to employees, companies are going beyond secure employment and great benefits to acquire and retain talent. We are also looking at the wants and needs of our next generation of employees in an entirely different way and offering the use of alternative work schedules, working remotely, offering nontraditional workspace and shared workspace to our manufacturing facilities.

AIAG: How do you juggle the competing responsibilities (e.g. human resources, accounting, safety, etc.) associated with your position?

Lauder: Communication is key. I have a wonderful team leading each of the departments I have responsibility for, and I rely heavily on them for day-to-day communication, prioritization of issue resolution, setting expectations and assigning support roles to the right people.

As someone once said, “The trick to juggling is determining which balls are made of rubber and which ones are made of glass.”

AIAG: How do your volunteer activities help you personally and professionally?

Lauder: For me, significant employment begins with feeling like you are part of something and making a difference. Being able to support these organizations is an extension of supporting every person in our community and every woman who wants to be a leader in the automotive industry, and it also gives me a chance for personal reflection and growth.

It really brings my personal and professional development full circle.

AIAG: What advice would you give to your younger self, or someone just starting out in the industry?

Lauder: Find your passion, embrace it and challenge yourself. Trust your instincts, and don’t be afraid to make big moves. Don’t doubt yourself; be willing to speak up and take risks. Lastly, don’t worry so much about what other people think of you. Trust your inner voice and pursue the things that you are passionate about. For me, that goes back to a passion I had for manufacturing in the 10th grade but did not pursue until many years later.

AIAG: In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges we face when developing the next generation of automotive professionals?

Lauder: Our number one challenge is hiring and retaining skilled maintenance team members. In fact, that is the number one unfilled job in the U.S. with 82% of manufacturers reporting a moderate or serious shortage in skilled production workers.

At Toyota, we are growing our own through the Advance Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program. Through partnerships with local community colleges, we are providing a career path to multi-skilled maintenance where students earn an associate degree while getting paid hands-on experience working in a manufacturing plant.

AIAG: What book, publication, or resource would you recommend to others in the industry for professional development and education?

Lauder: Get involved with your local automotive manufacturers association. Advocacy groups like this have numerous resources at their fingertips that you can use. The Southern Automotive Women’s Forum is a great organization for women seeking to enhance their personal and professional advancement in the automotive industry.

Hear more of what Emily has to say during the AIAG/AAMA SAQS! View our detailed agenda and register here.



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