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We live in turbulent times
A decade ago we were reeling from the impacts of the Global Financial Crisis, which was quickly followed by devastating earthquakes that shook us to the core. In the decade since then we have seen our population climb and our economy grow, but at the same time we have watched homelessness and inequality spread across the land. And during all this, the growing threat of climate change has manifested itself in heatwaves, floods and fires around the globe. A year ago the scourge of racist terrorism arrived in Christchurch and now we have the global COVID-19 pandemic killing hundreds of thousands of people, shutting economies and changing life as we know it. Turbulent indeed.
In these times four things stand out for me:
Firstly, Leadership Matters. As we’ve seen in the past decade, with John Key and Bill English guiding us out of the Global Financial Crisis and more recently Jacinda Ardern, Ashley Bloomfield and Grant Robertson guiding us through the pandemic, leadership makes a difference. They won’t always get everything right, but taking a lead, assuming responsibility, listening to advice, focusing on facts, being decisive and acting with compassion go a long way.
And that leads me to Thankfulness. We can be thankful that we have been blessed with effective leadership at this time (unlike some countries). We can also be thankful that we live on islands that can control borders, that we have an economy based on agriculture, that
our Government books were in good shape to withstand an external shock, that our health system (despite its problems) is strong, and so on. There is much to be thankful for in New Zealand.
Thirdly, in turbulent times Values are a Rock of Stability. When facing difficulties some turn to family, some turn to friends, some turn to faith, some turn to the Government for help. At Toyota we go back to our core values – you can see them repeated (as they always are) at the back of this magazine. They are the Believe Statements – values we hold dear. Things like Respect (the old adage to ‘Love your Neighbour’), Going the Extra Mile, Working Together and Trying to Make a Difference. They are same values that helped New Zealanders (Jacinda’s ‘team of 5 million’) make the lockdown effective.
And fourthly, Hold on to Hope. Things seem quite bleak at present – the pandemic is sweeping the globe, borders are closed, businesses are closing, unemployment is rising. And we still face the monster threat of climate change! But I have hope for the future. Apart from the political machinations of some countries, we have seen massive global cooperation among scientists, health officials, economists, media, businesses and officials to find the best solutions to this global problem. This gives me hope that we can find solutions to the other wicked problems the world faces in these turbulent times. As the Toyota philosophy puts it, “We believe every day’s an opportunity to improve.”
For Toyota’s part, as I write this at Alert Level 2, we are open for business. We are conscious that one of our long-time competitors (Holden) has decided to exit New Zealand, even before the COVID-19 crisis; there may be other brands that are unable to continue and may struggle to support customers. I can assure you that Toyota is in good shape with a very strong parent company. We face challenging times, but with our values intact we have every expectation of being in business and meeting customers’ mobility needs for many years to come.
For my part, this will be my last editorial for Believe magazine. After 12 years as Chief Executive and more than 40 years with Toyota, I will be retiring on 30 June 2020. My successor is Neeraj Lala, who has been with the business for well over 20 years. I am sure he will serve the business with distinction. It has been my honour to serve Toyota and its New Zealand customers for these past four decades – thank you for your support.