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Catching Up with Toyota’s Amy Moffatt

auto industry - blog

On March 5, 2019, Amy Moffatt – senior manager of Toyota North America’s Operations Management Development Division – gave the closing presentation at the AIAG/AAMA 2019 Southern Automotive Quality Summit (SAQS). AIAG had the opportunity to catch up with Amy after the event and asked her several questions about her perceptions of the automotive industry. Amy’s insights are below.

AIAG: How has the industry changed since you started?

Moffatt: Since I joined the automotive industry in 1997 many things have changed. Perhaps most significant are the advances that have been made in the technology. As a Team Member at Toyota, I am excited to be a part of the shift from primarily an automotive company to a mobility company. Improving autonomous vehicle technology and AI will continue to transform this industry and provide solutions to people who may not be able to move freely now. Things are changing rapidly and it will be interesting to see who is able to adapt and survive and who is able to enter as a new competitor.

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

Moffatt: I always put people first and foremost and I find that everything else falls into place for the most part. As for business priorities, I am fortunate to work for a company where there is a consistent message regarding priorities through what we call the Hoshin process. My personal method is to make sure there is a direct connection between my personal annual plan, called a Hoshin, and the Hoshin of the tiers above me - all the way to the company level. Since there are often competing priorities, it is important for me to be able to rely on my team to execute plans, so I spend a lot of time on people development. I also look for areas to improve processes so that I, and my team, can be more efficient.

AIAG: How do your volunteer activities (e.g., being a member of the SAWF board).) help you personally and professionally?

Moffatt: I receive more than I can express in words from serving on these boards. For example, the Southern Automotive Women’s Forum (SAWF) has allowed me to get to know and learn from many successful people in the automotive industry. These are folks that I may have never met if not for SAWF. Mentorships and friendships have benefitted me both personally and professionally. When you are on a board where you are all seen as equals versus at work where there is a defined reporting structure, there is a whole other set of skills you must develop to succeed. These skills have come in handy in situations outside of the board as well. Personally, serving on these boards gives me a chance to give back. In my case, I have a passion for educating young ladies about STEM education and careers. SAWF’s All Girls Auto KnowTM initiative is one such program where I can help spread the word to middle school girls.

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

Moffatt: Hold people in warm regard and seek to find the value in everyone as an individual and the positives in any situation. Between my education as an electrical engineer (problem-solving) and my experience with troubleshooting (equipment and situations), I have been trained all my life to always look for and find the problems. Until I found a balance where I could also see the good things, I feel like I was almost negative in my approach and it put blinders on me. As for education and career, I would say find a mentor and make sure people know your accomplishments. Take the time and make the effort to build your network. I am an introvert so networking must be very intentional for me. Once I get over the initial dread, I am always happy that I made the effort.

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

Moffatt: Attracting the talent is the first challenge that comes to mind – to develop the next generation, you must hire the next generation. The automotive industry does not do a good job of marketing itself to young folks who are looking for a career. It is an exciting industry and there are so many options – there is truly something for everyone – we need to make sure folks see that. The second challenge, also related to talent attraction and retention, is that the automotive industry isn’t as progressive when it comes to alternating work schedules and locations. With these perks becoming more and more desired and expected, I know several folks that will not consider a job unless it has flexibility. We must find a solution unless we want to significantly limit our options.

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

Moffatt: I believe most importantly, you need to take responsibility and ownership for your own development. Joining company-sponsored groups is a great place to get started. I was president of our Women’s Leadership Forum at Toyota and it was a great place to develop both personally and professionally. Serving on boards or attending conferences are other great ways. As for publications, I would recommend seeing if your organization has a daily publication that combines top stories from several popular sources and conveniently combines them in one place. When I had been with Toyota for about a year, I asked one of the executives how they learned so much about the current events in the automotive industry. I knew with her busy schedule, there was no way she was reading all these magazines. She had me added to the distribution list for the company email and it is great. I get several perspectives on the same topic and it is very comprehensive.