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Diversity In Action

Toyota is in hiring mode for experienced engineers & new grads

The company wants seasoned MEs, EEs, IEs, ChEs, computer engineers, engineers in packaging and material sciences & engineers for admin posts


Karen Rencurrel-Andrews, manager of HR and college relations: a new plant is opening and ops are gearing up. With a new plant opening in Mississippi and operations gearing up at existing plants, Toyota is in hiring mode for both experienced engineers and new grads, and is ramping up its college co-op program. The company is targeting minority schools and organizations for new hires.

A two-year hiring freeze has been lifted and the company is looking for experienced MEs, EEs, IEs, ChEs, computer engineers and engineers in packaging and material sciences. Toyota likes to bring in engineers even for administrative positions, thinking them better able to appreciate the technical demands of a manufacturing operation, says Karen Rencurrel-Andrews, manager of HR and college relations.

Experienced engineers are important, especially at start-up plants, but the company is also looking for college students to fill its pipeline. With the hiring freeze lifted, the company plans to bring in a number of new grads in 2011.

The new Mississippi plant will be Toyota's fourteenth manufacturing plant in North America, including three in Canada. Toyota buys more than $25 billion of parts, materials, goods and services from North American suppliers annually for the twelve vehicles it produces in North America.

Rencurrel-Andrews will send teams of recruiters to nineteen university career fairs this year, plus the annual conferences of NSBE, SWE, SHPE and AISES. "We want to reach out to more minority engineers," Rencurrel-Andrews says. "I plan to add even more conferences next year."

Rencurrel-Andrews discovered to her pleasure that that one of the college co-ops brought in this year was already a member of AISES and planned to attend the November AISES conference. He was able to provide the Toyota recruiting team with an insider's point of view. With the SHPE conference held in Cincinnati, OH, not far from Toyota HQ, the company took a large booth and sent more recruiters than usual to the late-2010 event. Todos, Toyota's Hispanic business partnering group, also sent representatives.

Todos is one of the company's five affiliate groups; the others are the Women's Leadership Forum, African American Collaborative, Toyota Christian Fellowship and Young Professionals. Each group focuses on the interests of its constituents, but is also active in projects of general interest.

The African American Collaborative, for example, has developed special expertise in financial advising. Its "Caf� Moolah" seminars are popular with the Young Professionals. The Women's Leadership Forum's Q&A; sessions with senior engineers and execs attracts an audience from all groups, and anyone interested in volunteering in the community finds projects under way with the Young Professionals.

"All the groups are good at advertising and sharing their programs with others," says Rencurrel-Andrews. "They've all done a marvelous job of organizing events."

Toyota's consensus-building culture is different from what many students and engineers have experienced. There are no cubicles so everyone can work in close proximity with teammates. To build consensus, team members present their data and proposals to all stakeholders; explaining the proposal lets everyone who will be involved with the project be heard before it is implemented.

"It takes a lot of time to do that front work, but implementation goes more quickly," says Rencurrel-Andrews. "We run into fewer problems."

Even the co-op students are part of the process, and gain confidence along the way. "They come in with the engineering skills, but I really see them bloom as they learn to build consensus," says Rencurrel-Andrews.

She advises students whose schools don't require work experience to seek out their own co-ops or find professional jobs during summer break. New grads without work experience are at a disadvantage in almost any company, she explains. By co-opping, "The students get to test-drive their careers and see if they would like to work here."

D/C



Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc
Toyota Motor Engineering &
Manufacturing North America, Inc
www.toyota.com

Headquarters: Erlanger, KY
Employees: 35,000 in North America
Revenues: $220 billion+ worldwide in FY 2010
Business: Motor vehicles. Toyota produces twelve vehicles in North America.

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