What Do You Do Here?: Marcus Umlauff
I am the general manager of Truck Strategy for Toyota Motor North America (TMNA).
How would you describe your role?
There are two parts to it.
First and foremost, I’m responsible for leading Toyota’s trucks’ overall success in the U.S. And when we say trucks, we’re talking about Tundra, Sequoia, Tacoma and 4Runner. It really is a unique role. Instead of working in our traditional functional teams, my task is to bring everyone together with a common focus, strategy and passion for the overall success of our trucks. As such, this touches on a wide array of disciplines such as product, accessories, marketing, public relations, sales, TRD, Toyota Financial Services, legal and many others.
The truck team considers every aspect of the customer experience. We strive to think differently, build the business and take advantage of new opportunities.
The second part of my role is to lead the Truck Product Planning team. Its focus is on our future truck product strategy: understanding the market, the customer, the competition and our business and then building a product plan and a business case to execute it.
Across both roles, my mission is to be the company’s No.1 advocate for the success of Toyota trucks. We should be very proud to be a truck company. In addition to our many other vehicles and Akio Toyoda’s vision to become a mobility company, it’s very important to acknowledge what we’ve accomplished in trucks and constantly look for new ways to build on this success in the U.S. market.
How would you say your role produces happiness or helps your fellow team members and/or customers?
There are two distinct parts to this: internal and external.
Internally, while we have built a special team, there’s no formal “truck organization.” Everyone who’s part of the truck team has a traditional role. But when we collaborate with a common purpose, we can achieve so much more than if everyone remains isolated in their specific functions. It brings me immense joy and energy to see the engagement and passion of our team. Connections are made that let everyone do big things, all with the common focus of Truck’s success.
Externally, everything the truck team does is about the customer experience. More than three years ago, the team developed the North American Truck strategy by adopting a customer-centric perspective. What do our customers do with their trucks? What do they love about them? Our task is to ask these kinds of questions and then provide a business that fulfills all aspects of their desired experience. We know that our customers love their trucks and the lifestyle they enable, and our job is to take every aspect of that to a higher level.
How long have you been with the company? Have you always been in this particular role?
I’ve been with Toyota for 17 years. The first 11 of those were with Toyota Australia, and the past six years have been with Toyota Motor Sales and TMNA. I’ve been exposed to many facets of the business, starting with TRD developing high-performance road vehicles, to accessories, to sales and marketing, to product planning and now my dream job leading the truck team.
Automotive has always been my passion and my career. I love all aspects of the industry. After graduating university, I was accepted into the graduate program at Ford, learning the business for several years before making the best career decision of my life — moving to Toyota!