Known sometimes as “Hal” or Hattori-san, Haruyuki Hattori, is Toyota Tsusho Mexico’s (TTM) newest president. We recently sat down with Hattori-san, who started his new role in April 2021, to get to know him better. Here is what we learned.
From a young age, he knew he wanted to see the world.
In high school, his dream was to work overseas. So, he studied Spanish and Latin Economy while attending Nanzan University in his birthplace of Nagoya, Japan.
Today, he has lived in eight cities on three continents and speaks not only Spanish and Japanese, but also English.
He enjoys traveling to places he has never been before. Among his favorite destinations so far are U.S. national parks, historical sites, and Kyoto, Japan. He hopes to soon add Palenque and Oaxaca, both in Mexico, to his list of sites seen.
He has experience working in nearly every Toyota Tsusho division.
Six out of eight TTC divisions, to be exact.
He also isn’t new to North America. He lived and worked in Mexico City from 1998 – 2002, then spent four years helping lead the startup of Toyota Motor Manufacturing de Baja California (“TMMBC”).
He has big plans in Mexico.
Running an operation like TTM is enough to keep a person busy. But, Hattori-san is just as committed to making a difference outside of work.
He says, “I would like to give back to Mexico. I am still thinking what I can do for Mexico. For example, infrastructure in Mexico isn’t strong. Maybe I can use my leadership experience from my previous job in the Food and Life division. I want to create a new network with local companies. I want to make TTM stronger.”
He is no stranger to tough assignments.
In a previous role, Hattori-san was responsible for establishing TAI as an on-site parts assembly and logistics supplier at TMMBC in Mexico.
“Back then, we were only doing tire assembly,” he said. “We wanted to expand into seat assembly, fuel tube assembly, exhaust pipe welding, sequence delivery, etc., but we were told “it is difficult.”
Still, he did not give up. Hattori-san leaned into the opportunity and made it happen. He came up with an all-new concept: a fully equipped logistics, parts assembly, welding, and delivery warehouse. It was a first for both TTC and Toyota.
He refers to this time in his career as a “crunching moment” – a chance to do something big. For Hattori-san, that meant challenging the status quo.
It also meant putting the work in at every level. For example, the new-style warehouse needed new people to run it. To fill the positions of HR manager and plant manager, “I interviewed 100 people,” Hattori-san shared. “This was my critical, fighting and crunching moment in my career.”
His advice: Don’t run away from the crunching moments.
Sometimes work is work. But when the going gets tough, “you don’t run away from it,” he says. “In Japanese, I say, “土壇場、修羅場、正念場.” Translation: “The critical and fighting moment is the crunching moment. Don’t run away from the crunching moment.”
Hattori-san knows firsthand the regret of running away from a critical moment. “You can learn from everything,” he says. “I have faced many “crunching moments”. After I overcame those, I learned many things and increased my capability so much. Don’t run away. You will regret it if you run away from a critical moment. I actually did once. I could have done better. That was my turning point.”
“It would be nice if work is always fun,” Hattori-san says. “But that is not the case. There are a lot of challenges and issues we face. You don’t run away from it. Using your full knowledge, power, and skills to solve the challenge. After you overcome that, for sure you will grow yourself.”
Now, he says, his motto is always, “Be positive and bright. And, I don’t run away.”