Did you know that Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota Motor Corporation, also is a Babson alumnus and our upcoming graduate Centennial Commencement speaker?
Fun fact: He is additionally known as a “master driver” in the race car world. “Issues and problems spring forth one after another during a race, and we draw on peak concentration and insight to solve them,” he says. “That sort of real-time response is equally necessary and valuable in tackling business issues.”
As Akio Toyoda prepares to return to campus for the Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 18, he shares with us some of his favorite Babson memories and advice.
What was your most memorable class at Babson?
My economics class with Professor William Casey. In Japan, teachers act like general managers . . . Professor Casey was more like a coach. So, I felt really encouraged.
Are there any lessons you learned as a Babson student that you use today as the president of Toyota Motor Corporation?
Always think like an entrepreneur. Toyota may sell cars in over 170 countries around the world, but we still need to think like a startup.
How do you stay connected to Babson today?
I keep in touch with President Emeritus (Ralph) Sorenson. He was like a second father to me in the United States. I have really fond memories of spending time with his family. I used to play soccer with his three kids. My son, who attended Babson as well, has a similar relationship with him.
What is your favorite Babson memory?
The library was brand new when I attended, and I really enjoyed it. I had my one corner, and if it was taken, I would just wait it out.
What advice do you have for students completing their MBA and continuing on with their careers?
Have your own ideas, your own voice. You’ve learned the fundamentals, you’ve got the land, make the house your own.
Similarly, what advice do you have for students who may be just beginning their MBA journey at Babson?
Don’t spend all your time in the library!
What do you most look forward to about being back on campus this May?
Visiting my old dormitory, Woodland Hill. And, playing soccer with the Sorenson family!
Posted in Entrepreneurs of All Kinds