Our Staff Experiences – CFAO Mobility Zambia

Moola Shuwanga, Regional parts Manager for Kitwe branch


Meet Ms. Moola Shuwanga, Regional parts Manager for Kitwe branch, who lives by Henry David Thoreau quote that” Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it”.

Historically, the automotive industry has been driven by men both on local and international level with a perception of women failing to balance the when given a parts role or to head a service or parts department.

Recently, women have turned this perception into an opportunity by making their mark in the motor industry by either- owning workshops or playing leading roles on the workshop floor and the vehicle parts departments.

We are so excited to share todays article about our female employee heading parts division at a regional level. Ms. Moola’s interview was short and unique in its own way. This is what she had to say about her experience at Toyota Zambia.

 “I joined Toyota Zambia in 2005 as Copperbelt parts manager with so much willingness to learn and continue to improve myself and those around me. I attribute my successes to hard work, dedication and the support from my family, friends and colleagues. I’ve been blessed with amazing people who have cheered me on and continue to be my strength in my career progress. Faith, you must realize that working in parts department on a management level for a decade requires you to be responsible for supplying and replacing of genuine while ensuring front line staff utilizes sales and marketing skills to increase revenue by selling parts to customers. Targets were met and was promoted to my current role, Regional Parts Manager-North, in 2015.

One of my strengths that I pride in, is that I’m a people person, which has worked well for me in my interactions with both customers and staff. In a market such as this, you cannot depend on walk-in customers to build the business. The strength of the relationships that you build determines your longevity in the business, you well know that fact Faith (she smiles).

I’ve always been a self-drive and result oriented person, and at times I tend to want to rush into achieving our targets by demanding a lot from myself and from the team. I expect my team members to always pull together as one and endeavour to lift each other up.

Regarding having a balance in life, here is my take Faith, I’m still trying to find the perfect balance, which is a bit of a challenge most of the time. I’m learning to plan my work within working hours so that I can leave the office on time and have time for “life outside Toyota”.

I live a very active lifestyle, so gym is a big part of my life. I must admit COVID did manage to derail me a little though, I’m still trying to get my discipline back. I find that workouts help me manage my stress better. It’s a bonus in that it keeps me in shape as well. Over the years, I have come to believe that indeed success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it, as Henry put it. Knowing that my hard work and perseverance will help me achieve greater professional and personal success is what keeps me going, and I believe I have inspired a number people that look up to me, staff under my leadership, as well as the customers that I serve… it encourages me to push more. That’s exactly what motivates me to even work harder. I am trying to dodge your question about my hobbies Faith (she smiles). In any case, I like to travel and experience the world and passionate about music, as it speaks to my soul in a way that nothing else does. I’m a singer and I believe I got the moves too.

Did I mention the fact that my first job was in an automotive company straight out of college in 1998? At that point I knew nothing about vehicles except that I enjoyed riding in them. It eventually became an interesting challenge as I was determined to learn as much as I could to be the best at what I do. The fact that there were very few females in management positions at the time was an even greater push for me. My work experience has been with 3 Companies, all automotive and spans over 22 years. This is a point I get to advise female aspiring to take a leap of faith and join parts department, ‘don’t be afraid of hard work, as a female you will have to work 3 times harder than your male counterparts to gain the respect and recognition that you deserve. Push on and never give up’.

It’s been a great journey, filled with learning, growing and developing both personally and professionally”.

These articles are shared to inspire and motivate anyone thinking impossibilities disrupt you from achieving your dreams. Look out for another encouraging piece as we decide to either drive all the way to Solwezi, North-Western, or Livingstone, Southern provinces.  Stay Tuned!!

Gilbert Mfuya General, Manager Copperbelt Toyota

Have you been enjoying the pieces we been sharing with you thus far? Well as promised from the previous article, we are excited to share today’s piece all the way from our Copperbelt, Kitwe branch, the story of Mr. Gilbert Mfuya – General Manager.

Have you ever wondered how certain personalities fear challenges making them feel nothing can be achieved? Well, this article is more pragmatic because it takes a leader to have both inspiration and good solid traits to lead a team to greater heights. This interview was different in a sense that it was more balanced as the interviewee shared more about his professional, personal, social, Faith and family. This is how Mr. Mfuya briefly shared about his experience at Toyota Zambia.   

“Thanks Faith Nawakwi for according me this opportunity to share my Toyota Story. I joined Toyota Zambia in 2002 as Information Systems Manager from Lonrho Group and played a significant role in redesigning and transforming the IT infrastructure at Toyota Zambia for improved business performance and operational efficiency. This project gave me better understanding of Toyota ‘s corporate vision and growth strategies and further enhanced my interest and knowledge of Automotive business operations which began during the time I worked for Lonrho Zambia Plc. Did you even know about the brand name Lonrho Zambia Plc? (as he smiles). Well that will be a story to tell after we done with this interview. I was awarded best Information Technology Manager, three years after joining Toyota Zambia, which was quiet an exciting experience for me.  The competition was tough as I was amongst employees from Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC) distributors in Africa under the Discovery Award program for effective design, management and delivery of projects and IT services. Coincidentally, this is the year I decided to change my career path to taste the waters of being in Sales and marketing. I made this decision to better contribute to Toyota’s core business and to know more about our external customer needs and how the business operates away from the IT services.

Fortunately, there was an opening in October 2005 for the position of New Vehicle Sales Manager in Lusaka. Even though this was highly competitive with seasoned industry experts competing for the Job, I took a leap of faith and applied for the position. What gave me confidence was my people management skills, knowledge of automotive business (which I have always loved), related market environment, which I wanted to use and explore to reach higher heights. Yes, I do love to push myself and turn the impossibilities to possibilities.  My educational background span from finance, project and business management. My base qualifications is in computer science and mathematics. Fast forward, I got the Job after several rounds of interviews, you can just imagine how elated I was, yet my mind was telling me that I was up for challenging times. Again positive energies kicked in, as it was time for a different change of wind in my personal life.  I have since marked the year 2005 as a career turning point, for I had to define a new trajectory in my exciting journey at Toyota Zambia.

Managing the Sales team came with its own challenges at the beginning. Nevertheless, the right environment of trust and respect for one another was created which gave birth to a team spirit environment. As a team we became alive with improved interaction and communication, great ideas began to flow. I further supported and filled the role of National Sales & Marketing as there was no one at that time in that position.  Faith, I will tell you that with unity of purpose, we pushed for sales growth to achieve our targets as a team. The collective effort paid off with the admission of Toyota Zambia into the Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC) 1000 club membership for selling over 1,000 units for the first time in Zambia.

In March 2009, I was promoted to head a totally new portfolio of “New Business Development and Growth” with a primary objective of infrastructure development and Organisation Process improvement. This portfolio required strong collaborative and engagement efforts with various internal and external stake holders for successful feasibility studies, evaluation, approvals and efficient projects implementation. Some of the notable achievements in the three years I served in this portfolio include:     

  • Feasibility study for the establishment of Non-Automotive business in Zambia.
  • Establishment of a flag ship facility in Lusaka (Nangwenya Toyota), Aftersales facility in Livingstone and upgrading the Copperbelt Toyota facility.
  • Migration of Enterprise Resource Application from Automate system to a more robust and dynamic system, SAP DBM.
  • Feasibility studies for Toyota foot print expansion in selected provincial centres, namely Chipata, Mansa, Kasama, Solwezi and Mongu and the eventual appointment of Authorised Service centres (ASC’s) in Chipata and Kasama.

I was later appointed as head of the Corporate Affairs Department in 2012. This was yet another exciting shift from project based activities to corporate governance, branding, retail concepts, including Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) under our shareholder theme of growing together with the community. During this tenure, we carried out various CSR activities which were related to education, health, safety and environmental sustainability. To achieve care for customer principle under customer relations, we established a centralised call centre to effectively track customer experience, complaints resolution.

Truthfully speaking Ms. Nawakwi, I have had a fair share of challenges which I believe you well know that no one is immune to the latter, such as team resistance to change and their affinity to the status quo and other minor things. However, change is inevitable. As a leader with a good number of years of experience, I have come to understand that motivation is easier to achieve while change of mind set takes one to lead the way. I believe in my team and expecteveryone to do right thing and push positive energies in the same direction, team potential is unlocked and the resultant competitive force is unmatched.    

Let’s go back to how Toyota Zambia has groomed me, 2015 I was promoted to my current position of General Manager Copperbelt, Kitwe branch. This has given me an all-round experience in dealer management over the last 5 years. You asked for 30 minutes, this has been two and half hours already, what else would you like me to share? (as he laughs). I am very approachable down to earth person, married to a beautiful wife Jacqueline. God has indeed been gracious enough to bless us with four (4) children, two boys and two girls. I try to balance time, however life experience has taught me that sometimes you need to sacrifice a portion of time, whether at work or home, to deliver on a corporate objective with support and understanding of family. Not easy but doable. With regards to my interests and hobbies, I enjoy reading innovative and management books.  At times when am just trying to relax, I end up occasionally attending golf day events, playing the game of chess or watching football. Above all, I am a Christian hence always have time for God. I have really enjoyed my networking within the Toyota Zambia family and still is enjoying. My dear, car dealership business is very detailed and require accuracy and trust elements in the delivery of service. Any compromise results in unhappy customer! Hence the need for continuous improvement in order to have ‘always happy customers’. I can only advice young ladies and gentlemen to exercise patience, develop a strong foundation on which to anchor their career ambitions. Furthermore, seek knowledge and understanding rather than immediate financial rewards. These principle tenets can help fulfil their dreams.

It’s a brief interview Faith, my journey at Toyota Zambia has been and still is exciting, challenging and yet rewarding.”

This has been an awesome interview from Mr. Mfuya. Our next article will be more like a twist of tales. No preambles,  just stay tuned and look forward to the next piece.

Mr. Franco H. Breytenbach – Toyota National Service Manager

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 4×4 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.

Longest Serving Employee: Ms Juliet Kamanga – Personal Assistant to CEO/COO

Ms. Juliet Kamanga is one of the longest serving employees at Toyota Zambia with more than three (3) decades at Toyota Zambia. She joined Toyota Zambia when it only had two branches, Lusaka Cairo and Kitwe in the Copperbelt.

Ms. Juliet first appointment was as a secretary to the sales manager. When asked how Toyota Zambia has evolved over the years, this is what she had to say.

“I have been with Toyota Zambia since 1987 and am proud to say we were only 70 employees. Being at Toyota Zambia has been such a great honour because I have tasted how it is like to be motivated, from being a secretary to personal assistant to different Managing Directors which came with challenges and improvements of skills. I can only encourage young ones out there to work harder and achieve their dreams through planning, determination and focus on what you are passionate about. Young ladies aspiring to be Personal Assistant, should not only have the educational background, but should be resilient and persistant towards achieving their goals”. As Collin Powell stated, ‘There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure’, she said.

Ms. Kamanga has diligently worked for Toyota Zambia for thirty-three (33) years and has progressively been recognised as the longest serving employee who holds a position of personal assistant to both Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Dino Bianchi and Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Nenad Predrevac.

Mr. Mambo Phiri – National Service Coordinator

Toyota Zambia Human Capital used to take interest in ensuring that its staff operate and deliver a level of performance that meets international Toyota Standards and customer service levels in an effort to position the company as a preferred employer.

This was achieved through vocational training and inviting top university graduates to apply for the graduate trainee program, which would run for two (2) years rotational training period to gain experience in all facets of a multi-national brand and enable employees to work across all levels in the organization.

Todays’ article is about Mambo Phiri who had a privilege to be picked as a best student from one of the international universities by Toyota Zambia as graduate trainee.

This particular interview was conducted in an informal set-up due to the busy schedule from Mr. Mambo Phiri and the interviewer. Mr. Phiri is one of the most enthusiastic self-driven employee at Toyota Zambia employed as National Service Coordinator in service department. This is what he had to say. 

“I graduated from Belgorod State Technological University in the Russian Federation with an Honours Degree with a distinction in Economics(major) and credit in Finance (minor) in June 2016. After having worked for Entrepreneurs Financial Centre Zambia as Relationship Manager for four (4) months, I was selected to work at Toyota Zambia in May 2017 as a Graduate Management Trainee (GMT). The transition made more sense as I was exposed to more responsibilities at the same time learnt and observed from how various staff members executed their work. Change indeed came at the right time. I must make mention that my learning process has not been a curve but a constant improvement due to the meetings and workshops I have been exposed to. Many are times people will say being a graduate trainee is not as good as being called an employee. Let me take this opportunity to clarify the perceptions from the mass regarding being a GMT. As a GMT, you get to become more competitive and amass different set of skills from various colleagues and departments which automatically gives you that unique X-Factor.

Today, I can proudly proclaim that I have gained experience in all facets/departments of a multi-national brand and can easily adapt to any branch within the Toyota World working environment across the world.  At the end of the program, my performance was rated and was given an appraisal. Thus a permanent employment position was offered to me and got exposed to various business activities in Vehicle Sales, Finance and Service Department. Whilst working in Vehicle Sales, I had an opportunity to works related to actual selling of motor vehicles, stock management, tender processes, marketing related activities, sales administration, as well as product knowledge and providing quality customer service. Later on I joined Finance Department where I worked as a Credit Controller and had a privilege to have gained an overall exposure on credit and debtors related activities which is one of the integral part of the business and the department as a whole.

Furthermore, I managed various Parts Sales Consultant’s account ensuring that all cash allocations are done timely, preparing the daily trade debtors report, follow up on the outstanding payments, managing customer accounts and reconciliation, providing support on debtor’s monthly reports, clearing service and parts cash sales as well as clearing value added tax.

Notwithstanding, I joined Service Department where I was exposed to works related to service advisory, costing, bookings, allocation of jobs to technicians, post service follow up, job card audits and providing monthly reports to Service Managers.

In addition, my hard work was identified by management as a result I was placed in the National Service Office as National Service Coordinator responsible for business coordination in the department and monitoring national sales, gross profit absorption rate, preparing daily and monthly service reports. Additionally, I had an opportunity to be sent to Kenya, Nairobi by management for a management workshop on Suzuki business management and operations and I was trained in business expansion, marketing, workforce management and planning, business monthly reports, strategic planning and budgeting, product knowledge and customer service.

Besides, I was the Team Leader for Toyota Zambia Kaizen Group called “Team Hasty”, where we participated in various sessions of team work discussions, research, analyses, planning and presentations aimed at continuous improvement of internal and external business processes. Our topic was on “Aged Stock Reduction” a project which has been implemented by Parts Department in ensuring that all strategies with regards to aged stock reduction will contribute to improving management of aged stock and stimulate sales and ordering process of new parts in order to prevent future reoccurrence of aged stock accumulation.

To this effect, I have had a wonderful business exposure at Toyota Zambia and from the support and help from management and members of staff I have managed to achieve all these milestones as well as other social prevailing business environmental activities.

Let me further take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to my career growth and development and may the God Lord bless you all”.

Mr, Phiri is currently working as National Service Coordinator and remains an ever passionate employee who believes in team work and innovation. Look forward to the next piece as we will take you to our Copperbelt Branch-Kitwe.

Mr. Deogracious Chisanga -Sales Consultant

One of Toyota Zambia’s core value is ‘Respect for People’ and ‘Continuous Improvement’. The second interview was awe-inspiring because the interviewee displayed a character of meekness and had extreme respect for people up until today.

This is one of the exceptional story we would like to share, another story from a long serving employee – Mr. Deogracious Chisanga a Sales Consultant at Toyota Zambia, who believes in possibilities. He has been working for Toyota Zambia for eighteen (18) years and has so much to share regarding Toyota as a work place his known to be, not just as an empowering organisation but also a working environment with ‘VAST’ opportunities.

It is amazing how Toyota Zambia as a brand has managed to keep 50% of its employees who still exhibit so much enthusiasm and have worked for more than a decade. Undoubtedly, readers of this article might have doubt regarding the authenticity of what has been shared, be assured that every story being shared has been approved for sharing and it is all about “realism ontology” which is simply the TRUTH!

This interview was exclusively done early March, 2020 by an independent person with vast experience in communication, research and development. When asked about how and when Mr. Chisanga joined Toyota Zambia, this is what he had to say. “I joined Toyota Zambia in August 2002 as a driver (with emphasis on his face). Yes, I applied for a job with an open mind, knowing for a fact that there were no vacancies at that time. A day after I submitted my application, I was called to start as a driver immediately. I was excited and trilled because before I could even settle as a driver, the Logistics Manager at that time, requested me to assist him in filing physical and Interpol forms. I must make mention that the change was drastic yet overwhelming as I was also given work from the administration office. I made sure that I worked beyond manager’s expectation which somewhat pleased the Managing Director. My dear I can assure you that was a turning point. I was then officially elevated to being the Registration Clerk within a month. I must make mention that I took every role very serious and was passionate about performing efficiently and effectively, that includes reporting for work at 06:30 am. I am the living proof of exhibiting “Diverse Skill Set”, which most people may call Jack of all trades (he laughs). This was not by default (as he smiles) for I certainly enjoyed every role I was given; it was a challenge which enhanced the set of skills I had. The following year, 2003, I was elevated to Registration Licensing Clerk, Sales Clerk there after Global Logistics Officer. It was after few years I had realised that my passing through various department made me understand Toyota not only as a Brand but as an organisation which gives no limit to one’s potential. At the end 2003, the Managing Director at that time, Mr. Brian Stevenson, asked me what I would love to be at Toyota Zambia. You will never understand or believe me when I say, my response was to be the Truck Sales Consultant. Change is inevitable, so there came the birth of HINO truck 300 series which was popularly known as Toyota Dyna even though the brand wasn’t that appreciated on the on Zambian market.

To understand Toyota Dyna, I was flown to south Africa for training over a period of six years. I must admit that the training motivated me, gave me the unquestionable morale which obviously yielded results of acquiring customers from fleet, corporate and individual segments. My art in selling overlapped to the need of showcasing the smaller vehicles at shopping malls like Manda Hill and the Golf course, you obviously know am referring to marketing displays. At a time when major changes where taking place, Toyota Motor Corporation acquired the shares from Hino. It was at that time I got discouraged because that was when I received my confirmation employed as a driver (sad face). I asked myself, after passing through all these roles and making strides. In short I then realised that our Human Resource department was giving me what was supposed to have been mine months ago. I kept a positive attitude and continued to excel both in skills and roles. I was later confirmed as a sales consultant on permanent basis but retired when I clocked the retirement age. Yes, I need to speed up this interview because it can take us the whole year if not a decade. Today, thankfully, I am still an employee of Toyota Zambia, currently working as sales consultant – which is contractual. The advice I would like to give young ones is simple. Be yourself and take up any challenge, your humility will propel your progress”.

Mr. Chisanga has continued to add value to the corporation and has proved that he has been a great asset to the corporation. It is with no doubt that he still continues working as one on the long serving internal customers (employee) for Toyota Zambia. You too, can start your impossible!

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