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When you talk to Annie from Rutherford & Bond Toyota, you can tell this 23-year-old knows what she’s talking about. Confident in her ideas and more than happy to deal with any curveballs as they come - two attributes that, from what she describes, Toyota’s Retail Graduate Programme has instilled in her.
After a gap year, and a second stint at Victoria University in Wellington to receive her Honours degree, Annie applied for the Toyota Retail Graduate Programme. Her background in marketing and international business drew her to the larger company - and Toyota’s values sealed the deal.
That being said, the programme was not what she expected. This is due to her less than common path through the course. For you see, Annie has a knack for digital marketing and social media - one that she had informed her manager about at the start of her journey. “It was advertised as a business graduate programme… I knew I’d be trying all the departments” explained Annie. Typically the programme is set to rotate evenly through all the departments, however for Annie, she experienced the whole system in under a month. Annie’s manager had taken her enthusiasm on board and created a role specifically for her - one where she could pursue her passion while still making positive contributions to the company. On her own unique path through the programme, Annie took control of Rutherford & Bond’s digital marketing efforts, managing their social accounts and running campaigns such as a follow up to Toyota’s ‘Small Business Driver’ Highlander competition. One of the highlights of her role so far, Annie created a series of videos showcasing the region's winners, getting to know how this prize has made a real difference for them.
Working in a role that had not existed before, Annie had to learn to think on her feet. There’s an overwhelming amount of details to learn in any new position. “Other programmes you have to learn the ropes before you start sharing your ideas, Toyota’s quite the opposite.” Annie explained “I bought a notebook on my first day. To keep all this information and to fact check myself.” These notes were needed for Annie, as no two days were the same. “What you’re doing is going to be very diverse. If you like to know exactly what you're doing and have a set routine, you may struggle - you need to be adaptable. “
That’s not to say the graduate programme is just about your learning. Annie pointed out one of the things she didn’t expect is how much the dealerships wanted to learn from her, “they’d often ask me questions, they really valued my perspective. “She further elaborated “they’ve [Rutherford & Bond] never had someone doing marketing for them before. They were very open about saying ‘they don’t know what they don’t know.’ I helped them develop a strong social media presence and changed their communications drastically.” After all this change, Annie got a huge boost to her confidence - for the first time ever, Rutherford & Bond was featured in the top five Toyota dealerships for website activity. “I waited three months before talking about my ideas. I wish I didn't wait. I wish I just took my ideas, developed them and just ran that brief past the manager,” Annie later reflected.
What gave her the confidence to finally speak out? It’s largely the culture at Toyota. Annie explains “the environment they have created is the perfect amount of doing the hustle, having fun, encouraging each other and learning to grow.” She adds “it’s okay to make mistakes - you have this idea that you want to do so much right, but you don’t know everything so naturally you’re going to make mistakes. Learning from them is what makes you better.”
Applications open for the 2021 Retail Graduate Programme on the 17th of August. Head to graduates.toyota.co.nz to apply.