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The Horizon

The Student News Site of Westmont College

The Horizon

The Student News Site of Westmont College

The Horizon

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Toyota Jack at Westmont

Daniel Carrera, DALL-E

To turn the engine on this semester, Westmont’s Executive Leadership class welcomed Jack Hollis, President of Toyota of North America. Jack, full of energy and eager to share, created an engaging atmosphere. Students were at the edges of their seats awaiting his insight and experience on leadership. This seminar was full of personal experiences which illustrate leadership’s essence, purpose and qualities. Jack’s view on his professional life is best stated in his own words, “I work for God, I just get paid by Toyota,” a hybrid approach to his professional and spiritual way of life.

Michaela Morris

With the essence of leadership, Jack engaged the class in an introspective discussion on who the greatest leaders were to the students and why? Among those mentioned were Martin Luther King Jr., Marcus Aurelius, Michael Jordan, etc. Hollis brought to attention how Jesus, an exemplary leader, is one who leads nations with nothing but his word. Hollis defines leadership as a visionary pursuit that one should always keep at the forefront of everyday operations and states that a leader is, “The visionary that organizes a group of individuals by definitive goals.” He suggested that every individual, no matter what level or occupation you are aiming for, find your word. “Integrity” is the word that Jack wants to identify with. To do what’s right even under the pressures of others and desires of everyday life. Hollis describes how knowing what you stand for is important to being the captain of your own life.

Leading with purpose and innovation, the emphasis on balance was a key discussion in the seminar. He also explained how he had epiphanized devoting more of his life to God by leaving Toyota and joining a local Church to spread the word of God. His friend held up a mirror and made him aware of how he would have a greater reach if he let God impact the lives of those at Toyota through him.  For students that will be going into sales and business, a frequent concern is that many people in these professions feel it might be contradicting to spreading God’s greatness while you are simultaneously pocketing coins. Hollis takes an ethical approach to this question and suggests that those in these professions should focus on the benefit that others would receive and guide them through that process to make the best decision possible. 

This role of innovation and forward-thinking in corporate leadership is also seen in a wider approach to Toyota’s strategy. Many vehicle manufacturers are creating fully electric vehicles while Toyota is focusing more on hybrids and hydrogen vehicles. Jack creatively asked students to hold up their phones as if it was a lump of material to be used for battery manufacturing. With that same lump of material manufacturers can make one fully electric vehicle, six plug-in hybrids, or ninety hybrids. Many are not in the economic state to purchase an expensive fully electric vehicle. It’s not a race to who can go fully electric, it’s a race to reduce as much emissions that are currently pouring into the environment in the most economically beneficial way possible. 

Playing off of his anecdotes on how God closes doors and opens windows, I was privileged with the chance to ask Hollis, “If God were to open a window for you tomorrow, what would be the qualities that you would look for in someone to fill your seat at Toyota?” You could see Jack spark with enthusiasm. “Write this down,” he told the class, explaining how there are ‘five C’s’ of leadership that he looks for: Chemistry, for relationships with the team and individuals; Competency, highly important on Jack’s list of qualities of a successful leader, for the material that they will work day-in and day-out; Catalyst, for the individual’s ability to act upon ideas, stimulate teams, and make others better; Competition, for the individuals drive and ambition to excel under pressure and innovation; Capacity, for the range of abilities they are able to operate in and do so at a high level. Most importantly, aligning with Jack’s core, he discerned if that person can stand-up for what is right even if they have to stand alone.

In a captivating interview, Allie Bunn, a student deeply interested in Jack Hollis’s work at Toyota, shared her insights from the lecture, highlighting Hollis’s emphasis on integrity in business and the challenges of upholding moral values in diverse work environments. Allie proposed a thought provoking question that many of us may face down the road, which was, “How does one work in a space in which your peers don’t share your morals or values?” Hollis’s recommendation struck a core principle. One has to choose to walk away or stand up for what they believe in. He emphasizes the importance of defining your core values as a top priority. Regarding another contingency in the question: people who are not followers of Christ, have bad behavior, are hurting company sales, or acting immoral. 

Catalyzing a change in perception with Allie, Jack advised her to bring up something that they care about or value to best relate to them on their own plane of existence. Bunn emphasized how valuable this course was to her and how these principles can be directly applied to life. When asked for recommendations on how to engage with the guest speaker Allie highlighted her approach on becoming present and to draft questions that align with your interests. Allie’s overall experience was taken with genuine gratitude for the speaker stating how even though Jack channeled in via Zoom he still brought so much energy to the class with his charismatic persona, writing the names of the students who asked questions, and tied in God in his lecture showing how one could be equally passionate about their professional life. 

To sum it up, the seminar was like cramming a class full of students into an imaginary  road trip to the differentiating landscapes of life’s paths that lay beyond the face of the President of Toyota of North America. This roadmap inspires those who want to follow in Jack’s footsteps that God imprinted on him. Jack’s life story provided students with more insight into important aspects to consider after the diploma. Moving forward, find the word that you want to define yourself with and live it, lead with purpose by working towards creating an impact that will best benefit those around you to the best of your abilities and resources, create scenarios where you can best grow into obtaining the ‘five C’s’, and define your core values so you know what to stand up for or when it’s best to walk away. In the brief one hour seminar, Jack took a good look at Westmont and said, ‘Let’s Go Places.’

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