Today’s article is even more interesting, as we cross over on an international level. The article is based on Mr. Franco H. Breytenbach the National Service Manager for Toyota Zambia.
The interview was conducted in April 2020 at Toyota Cairo road branch. Mr. Breytenbach preferred a face to face interview which was unstructured even after emailing him twelve interesting structured questions. The most exciting experience with this unstructured face to face interview is that it was very flexible, comfortable and a very practical method to analyse the interviewee.
Mr. Breytenbach took the interview process back to South Africa. Certainly, there are many reasons why corporations tend to hire experts rather than hire someone locally. It’s a common norm that an expatriate worker brings about unique set of skills, culture and processes which will obviously add necessary value in a long term.
This is what he shared, “My automobile journey kicked off in 2000, when I joined Toyota South Africa as an apprentice and made advances in my earliest career, I enjoyed my work and the learning process was just out of this world. Obviously, I expected challenges serving as an apprentice and one of them was when my immediate supervisor did not show me how to repair and fix the 4x4 engine system yet expected me to work on one of the customers’ vehicle randomly. There was a gap in my understanding when the front shaft turned off from the differential. In short I was not given full instructions, it was a trial. A trial which groomed me to manage time effectively, maintain control and composure over projects/responsibilities and developed a proactive approach towards tasks.
Nevertheless, when the work you do is embedded in your blood, you can always figure it out one way or the other. Toyota South Africa policy states that; for one to be qualified as technician, one has to go through all four levels and pass within four years. The stages are from technician, professional, diagnosis up to the master diagnosis. I completed my courses after being tested on both practical and theory and qualified in 2003. I became well vested with Hino and Lexus because of constantly operating in the workshop for twelve years in various roles. I was then promoted to Service manager in 2008 under the Lexus brand. You see, there is a society in South Africa which monitors the automobile industry. It is for the elite, imagine out of 209 dealers only 16 members were selected and allowed to be handpicked. Interestingly, the society is not just like any other ordinary association where one has to apply and be given a membership card. The society acquires and keeps all information confidential; from technical issues to quality of work being displayed in the industry. I was privileged to be amongst the 16 and believe me, the extensive knowledge and training I acquired is just out of this world. Toyota Motor Corporation was impressed so much so that interest was shown to an extent where management wanted me to share and implement the knowledge I acquired in other countries.
I have worked for various automobile companies including Halfway group and Africa Mobility Solutions (AMS) as a manager in aftersales service. You might be wondering when I decided to join Toyota Zambia (as he smiles), it was in July 2018, that was after I had developed and shared several modules on aftersales to Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Angola, Uganda and Mauritius. Based on my vast understanding of differences in corporate culture, I gladly joined Toyota Zambia”.
Mr. Breytenbach has been with Toyota Zambia for over two years. Observers and some employees have confirmed that Mr. Breytenbach’ s leadership style encourages and allows above and lower-level employees to display their full potential, which is certainly an effective democratic way of leading a large team from Cairo, Nangwenya, Kitwe, Livingstone, Solwezi and the authorised service centres (chipata, Kabwe and Mkushi) respectively.
This was a splendid unstructured interview. We hope that you enjoyed this piece and learned something regarding change, as it inevitable and very much possible. Look forward to another exciting upcoming article.