What Akio Asked the Future Toyota Leaders to Value (Part 2: Toyota Technical Skills Academy Graduation Ceremony)


Akio went up on the stage to talk with the academy graduates after the graduation ceremony. What was the message that Akio tried to convey to the students who will lead the future generation?

What Makes the Academy Graduates Smile

The graduation ceremony for the Toyota Technical Skills Academy, Toyota’s in-house training school, was held on February 18. The event was supposed to conclude with the highly-anticipated meet-and-greet—with safety protocols in place— between the graduates and Akio after the ceremony.

Akio prints Morizo stamps in the students’ employee handbooks while he chats with each one of them. Even the graduating class representative, Ms. Imafuku, who was nervous to give remarks at the ceremony, flashed a big smile.

Akio returned to the hall where the graduates were waiting to leave the venue. He went up on the stage and began speaking with the students. The following are some excerpts from the surprise session:

Congratulations on your graduation.

Academy graduates:
Arigatou gozaimasu. (Thank you.)


Academy graduates:
Arigatou gozaimasu!


Academy graduates:
Arigatou gozaimasu!!! (Laughs)

This is what I love about you, graduates. Even though you looked serious at the ceremony, you’re all ordinary teenagers. That’s just the way you are.I could keep talking about myself but since this is a good opportunity, I would like to ask if anyone has any questions for me?

Yes! (A student eagerly raises his hand)

Academy graduate:
While the number of electric cars such as BEVs or FCEVs increase with the changing times, I saw you in a video saying, “I love gasoline-powered cars.” I also love gasoline-powered cars, and want more people to love cars in general. Do you have any advice for me?

You should express your love of cars from the bottom of your heart. Put your entire soul into it. I’m at the ripe age of 65 and I’m still at it. I’m still loudly proclaiming that I love cars that make noise even as people discuss electrification, CASE, environmental issues, and the like.

Customers decide what kind of cars they want in the end, right? Toyota is making a full lineup of cars, which provides each customer with a wide range of choices.

Each of you will take on work in a variety of fields at Toyota from now on. First of all, you must realize that you were given the job for a reason. Then, you must learn to love the job. You can also express your love of cars through your job.

Academy graduate:
What does it take to become president?

I guess you should be like me, and outdo me (laughs). You can’t outdo me by doing the things I have already done. You should first try to understand 100% of what I do, and then go above and beyond. So please try your best!

However, I would be gone sometime eventually. Either you can wait until then, or do whatever it takes if you want to be a young president. Good luck!

Academy graduate:
I am assigned to an engine development department at Toyota, but I would like to eventually work on an assignment that supports electrification, such as Woven City. I don't think there is a connection between engines and electrification, but how can I make use of what I learn about engines in the future?

It’s better you find it yourself! But well, you know, engines and motors are both hearts of cars. That is the only hint I can give you. That said, I don’t actually know the answer to your question myself.

The atmosphere had completely changed from the seriousness of the ceremony to a joyful atmosphere—filled with smiles and laughter. The graduates never stopped, never gave up and always discovered new paths no matter what the circumstance.

Akio wanted to bring smiles to such graduates’ faces, and make this graduation ceremony memorable. It was an action out of Akio’s such feelings toward them.

What Matters the Most In the End…

The third question led Akio to talk about the electrification of cars.

Akio explained the challenges in achieving carbon neutrality as follows.

Japan would not be able to handle all Japanese cars becoming BEVs given the current power generation capacity. Charging the cars takes a long time, and it would cost a tremendous amount to install even more charging stations than the current number of gas stations.

Since Japan relies more heavily on thermal power, generating electricity emits a lot of CO2. Therefore, a car’s CO2 emissions can vary from a life cycle perspective depending on the country’s energy ratio.

Akio continued with the following message to the next generation leaders who will pave the way to the future.

This is the reality that we are facing now. Considering global warming among other factors, the automotive industry must assume some of the responsibility by burning less fossil fuels, and consider how we’re going to preserve the environment for our children. However, simply converting all cars to BEVs isn’t the solution.

The important factor is what to do with energy policies. Again, we can’t just convert cars to BEVs unless we first tackle the complex task of changing the structure of various industries in the world.

Media and experts provide various perspectives and opinions, but what matters the most in the end is “Genchi Genbutsu,” to go and see the facts for yourself. This is what you learned at the Academy.

Therefore, I continue to ask you to take the approach of finding the facts yourself based on the source such as “someone said this” and “it was written that” and then reflecting, “why is this so? Is this right?” It is important to try and get a handle on the facts yourself. I hope you try your best.

How do you utilize that information and who are you trying to make happy with it? That will become the most important thing hereafter. Your futures are ahead of you. I’m rooting for people like you to lead the way to a better future.

I wish you all good health and success, and don’t forget to express gratitude to people around you. Congratulations!

Academy graduates all at once:
Arigatou gozaimashita!! (Thank you)

Before receiving the Morizo stamp, graduates wrote in their employee handbooks what they’re determined to do after graduating.

During an interview last year, Akio said, “No matter what changes may come, including this once-in-a-century period of profound transformation, we can overcome it if the genba is strong.”

Students graduating the Academy will be the future leaders of Toyota’s genba. The day of their graduation ceremony ended with Akio’s message full of hope for the next generation of leaders, and what he believes they should value.