Inspiring women of the Toyota family: Jenny, Harpreet, Sophie and Becky

Women's History Month

Toyota (GB) is widely recognised for its ongoing commitment to equality and is proud to celebrate the inspirational activities and accomplishments of women within the many sectors of our corporate family. We value initiatives such as Women’s History Month, which provides a global call to action for industries to create inclusive work environments that generate a sense of belonging, value and empowerment among women of all ages.

Such equality is much more than an annual, month-long endeavour for Toyota; it is a mind set that permeates our entire business structure. And we thought the best way to illustrate this was to showcase the inspiring voices of individuals from various sectors of our family. Through candid commentaries and engaging videos we wanted to shed light on their journeys and perspectives, and reveal how they have felt supported over the years as women within the automotive industry.

Women’s History Month: inspirational Toyota family voices

Women's History Month

Jenny Justice, senior manager, Toyota (GB) remarketing services

“I have been at Toyota (GB) for 22 years and been fortunate enough to gain experience in a wide variety of roles, the latest of which is overall responsibility for a team of 37 individuals in the remarketing department.

“A background in accountancy initially led me to become a business development manager at Toyota. Then after taking on various field team roles, a colleague encouraged me to move up into the role of direct marketing manager, a position that I stayed in for many years and through two periods of maternity leave.

“After moving into what is now known as the value chain department, the past three years has seen me lead an ever-growing remarketing team through a large transformation. This has involved moving out-sourced activities in-house, working with Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) in refurbishing used fleet vehicles, and growing Toyota’s share in the used car retail market.

“It is an ongoing challenge to balance full-time work with my responsibilities as a mother (and keen golfer). I always felt guilty leaving my children in holiday camps and going back to work when their friends were having days out with each other. But now that they are older it has become more about being able to support their sporting activities as a driver and cheering them on from the sidelines.

“Flexible hours and remote working have made a really big difference to this, allowing me to extract more from the same number of hours in the day. Meanwhile, having supportive line managers and a network of friends and colleagues in similar situations has also been really important. Another way that I have been able to independently reflect on my work/life balance and challenge my next career steps has been to receive external mentorship through the Automotive 30% Club.

“Toyota (GB) has changed so much over the years in order to better support women and embrace the changing world we live in. As a senior manager, I take my team’s personal development and position as a role model for flexibility really seriously.”

Women's History Month

Harpreet Tamber, production specialist, Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK)

“I’m so proud to not only be a woman but an Asian woman working in the manufacturing industry. I joined Toyota as an industrial trainee and came back on the graduate scheme in 2008 after completing my BSc Logistics with Supply Chain Management degree at Aston University. I started within the production control division but currently lead the department that oversees the successful trial and launch of new models.

“Toyota has supported me from the very first day I started to returning from maternity leave… three times! I had my first child in 2012 and returned on a reduced schedule of four days a week. After my third child was born in 2020 I returned to work in June 2021 on a 20-hour-per-week contract – the least amount of time I have ever worked yet the most challenging for completing my various tasks and projects.

“Throughout my career I’ve been given fantastic development opportunities, and although it has been very challenging at times – What job isn’t? – I can honestly say that Toyota is a great company to work for. I get flexible working and the work/life balance I need.

“After working reduced hours for over ten years now, I wouldn’t change any of my decisions. If anything, I hope it can inspire other women of all backgrounds to do the same. Career progression is still possible while working part-time, especially at a company as supportive and inclusive as Toyota.”

Women’s History Month: inspirational Toyota family voices

Sophie Ogunbiyi, external affairs manager, Toyota Motor Europe – London

“I am manager for external (that is, government) affairs in the London office of Toyota Motor Europe, and have worked at Toyota for 15 years. During this time I have seen the company undergo positive advancements in diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), which has impacted me most in terms of support for working parents.

“Toyota’s work from home and flexible working policies have been transformative for me as a full-time working parent with three young daughters. I used to commute into central London on public transport every day and rely on childcare providers from 7:00am to 7:00pm. This was exhausting for all of us and gave us so little quality family time during the week. So being able to work from home, drop my children at school in the morning and have more time together in the evening has dramatically improved the quality of our family life. Furthermore, the enhanced maternity entitlement was a huge support and made a big difference when my middle and youngest daughters were born.

“In a professional capacity, I am striving to inspire inclusivity in my roles as DE&I champion, a person of trust, and a member of Toyota’s gender diversity network employee resource group. This has empowered me to support colleagues in promoting DE&I in the workplace.

“Outside of work, I have been inspired by Toyota’s inclusive Start Your Impossible campaign. I decided that, after a couple of difficult years that included family illness and lockdown, I would start my own ‘impossible’ and run a half-marathon. Having never been a runner, in 2022 I embarked on a nutrition and fitness regime which resulted in a significant health overhaul and weight loss. I also fell in love with running and competed in seven races last year, including four half-marathons.

“The Start Your Impossible campaign helped motivate and empower me, and made me accountable for my own goals. In turn, I have been able to promote sporting events to other women in Toyota via the gender diversity network. I have been truly inspired to believe that anything is possible with the right mindset and ambition; and for that I am very grateful.”

Becky McCormack, customer experience manager, Kinto

“I have worked at Kinto – Toyota’s mobility services brand – for 13 years, beginning as a customer service advisor. I worked in this role for almost four years before I went on maternity leave. The business enabled me to return in a part-time capacity so I could juggle work and family life. Despite working reduced hours, I have always felt included and part of the team, and was still enabled to develop through my grade based on performance.

“Later, with the great support of my line manager, I took another part-time position looking after new colleagues and quality control. Encouraged by this, in 2021 I secured a full-time position as customer experience manager and was able to negotiate some flexibility in my work hours so that I could finish early on Wednesdays to spend time with my children.

“During my time at Kinto I was diagnosed with ME. At times it was debilitating and I was very concerned about how this was going to affect my career. But I received the most amazing support from my line manager and the human resources team. This was in addition to support from the automotive business charity Ben, which helped me receive treatment to improve my symptoms and crashes. Along with the counselling the charity provided, this treatment changed my life. Occasionally I needed some extra time during work hours to attend appointments but I was given flexibility, support and compassion in navigating this.

“I’m happy to say that I am now feeling significantly better and able to continue to develop in this company. I have also been given the amazing opportunity of becoming a mental health first aider to help and support others through their challenges.”

Recruitment at Toyota

Based on these real-life Women’s History Month experiences, have you been inspired to apply to work for Toyota and begin your own inclusive story? The following companies are key members of the Toyota family within the UK. Click on each company name to be taken to the home page of its official website.

Additional articles within our Women’s History Month series:

Learn more: How Toyota is contributing to International Women’s Day 2024

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