Turning Toyota Motor North America into ‘One Toyota’
When Jim Lentz was named C.E.O. of Toyota North America back in 2013, one of his first priorities was to consolidate the three different headquarters under his purview into a single unified team—one that was better poised to compete in a crowded marketplace. At the heart of that ambitious undertaking was a brand new campus based in Plano, Texas, that would bring all North American operations under one roof.
But in order get to the new initiative up and running, Lentz and his senior leadership team first had to inform all 32,000 U.S.-based employees of the move and get them ready for it, and that meant—first things first—communicating the news in a way that got everyone excited.
What was needed
In order to make the new “One Toyota” a success, Lentz and his team knew that it was essential that employees and their families understood the rationale for the move and the company’s vision for the future. To do that, the team felt it was imperative that every single employee heard the announcement on the same day and time, which meant coordinating the message in a very careful and thoughtful way—no different than if it was a product launch.
Toyota also needed to quickly establish several new communication channels, such as websites and video tutorials, so that when the announcement was made, employees and their managers would have ample resources to go to for information. It was a lot to do, even for a change management and culture transformation project, and there wasn’t a whole lot of time to do it. So naturally ROI stepped in to help.
- Change management and culture transformation
- Communication strategy
- Senior leader meetings (design, facilitate)
- Executive and leadership communication
- Training (executive, manager, employee)
- HR programs (design, execute)
- Communication toolkits and resources
- Event design and support (in person, live-streaming)
- Employee relocation and onboarding
- Project management
- Visual identity development
- Intranet and external websites
- Video creation
What we did
From the outset, ROI came in to help with the initial announcement, developing emails from C.E.O. Lentz, as well as a whole host of leader communications to not only explain the move but also get employees excited. From there we then assisted with every aspect of One Toyota, helping to coordinate timelines, managing communication plans, designing informational mailers sent to employee homes, writing the copy on flyers left on employees’ desks, assimilating information about Plano, and even personally helping answer more than sixteen hundred email questions.
It was a big, comprehensive, multi-year project that began with Toyota operating in several major markets in California, Kentucky, and New York and ended with one unified organization—Toyota Motor North America—based in Plano.
“They are strategic, responsive, and create communication initiatives that the organization can learn from, adapt as their own and turn into lasting processes. Along with their communications expertise, ROI has significant change management experience. They are great partners.”
– Julie Hamp, CCO, Toyota Motor North America
How it turned out
Immediately following the initial announcement, 83 percent of employees said they understood the reasons for the move and unifying the company’s headquarters. More than 96 percent of managers felt the communications provided to them were helpful, and employee use of the relocation website and “ask a question” mailbox remained consistently high throughout the project.
The company completed the move to Plano in 2017.
The team that made it happen
Senior Vice President, Creative
Senior Vice President, Creative
Many people identify themselves as left- or right-brained – either logical or creative. Melanie Barna’s background in both computer science and creative design suggests that the two are not mutually exclusive.
“It’s all about problem-solving,” Melanie said. “Any given project presents a unique set of challenges. I like putting things together that make sense and are visually engaging.”
And as ROI Communication’s Creative Vice President Melanie does just that, blending a keen eye for aesthetics with industry experience and technical know-how. “I have a firm grasp of what the latest technology can accomplish, and how to use it to meet client needs in the most creative and effective way possible,” she said.
Before joining the ROI team in 2010, Melanie worked as the creative director for the RCN Corporation, leading the telecom giant’s creative strategy, supervising a team of designers, developing campaigns and overhauling its brand. Prior to her tenure at RCN, she was an associate art director for WETA, a Public Broadcasting System television station in Washington, DC. There, she created print and TV graphics for national PBS programming, designed websites, produced advertising campaigns and helped lead branding initiatives. Earlier in her career, she was a graphic designer for Explus – an agency specializing in museum and tradeshow exhibits – and The Freedom Forum, a non-profit foundation advocating freedom of the press and freedom of speech around the world.
“In all these jobs, I learned to keep my work fresh,” Melanie said. “Your customers are changing, and you need to make sure you’re staying current, too.”
Melanie earned a BS in Computer Science with a secondary major in Studio Art from the College of William and Mary. An award-winning artist, she is also a marathon runner and loves to cook.
Senior Graphic Designer
Senior Graphic Designer
When Mark Briggs packed a U-Haul and moved from New York City to San Francisco in 1996, several of the states he traversed were completely fogged in – he saw little beyond the gray pavement of the Interstate, just beyond his windshield. But as a graphic designer, Mark makes sure that he always has a clear picture – not just of a project’s ultimate goal, but of the surrounding environment, too.
“I like distilling complex information, and making sure a design is clean, clear and in context,” Mark said. “You have to understand the greater context to achieve that.”
Mark attributes his approach to graphic design to the home in which he was raised: his father was an engineer, and his mother was talented in art and interior design. This gave him an appreciation for the analytical and the creative. “I always try to understand what a client is trying to achieve, strategically and emotionally, and develop the design based on that,” he said.
Before joining the ROI Communication team in 2010, Mark spent more than 15 years working as a designer handling a wide range of projects. He began at the San Francisco Weekly before earning a BFA in Graphic Design from the Academy of Art University, and then worked at Allen Craig Communication Design and e.g. communications, both in San Francisco. Later he worked as a graphic designer for Joie de Vivre Hospitality, the owner of 50 boutique hotels and restaurants throughout California. There, he helped establish brand standards and style guides, collaborated with the marketing and public relations teams, and developed both print and web collateral, among other projects.
While Mark has deep technical knowledge to help execute a client’s design goals, he never loses sight of the fact that, ultimately, his work has to tell a story that’s both logical and emotionally compelling.
In addition to his BFA in graphic design, Mark holds a BA in elementary education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. When he’s not working with clients, Mark loves to cook, ride his bicycle and travel – mostly along back roads, if he can.
Over the course of his career, Lee Callaway has learned the value of communication in many roles – first as a sports reporter, next as a Marine, and later in a range of leadership positions at newspapers and large corporations.
“I like the challenge of figuring out what inspires people to take action,” Lee said. “Then I like getting them the information they need to do it.”
Today, as a partner to ROI Communication, Lee helps clients articulate their goals and tell their stories in the most effective way possible. “If someone can understand the big picture and feel they have an identifiable part in achieving that goal, they’re going to be more engaged and their team or company is going to do better,” he said.
Lee has worked as a consultant for more than 15 years, advising clients in the tech and pharmaceutical sectors, including Hewlett-Packard, Adobe, Applied Biosystems, Gilead and Roche. Earlier in his career, he served as VP of Public Relations for Pacific Gas & Electric, worked as a journalist for the Nashville Banner and the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and later in PR for Wachovia. Before partnering with ROI Communication in 2002, he advised a wide range of clients including Metropolitan Life, J.D. Power and Associates, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Capital One Financial and a number of tech startups.
Lee is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and has since earned two masters’ degrees, one in Management from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and another from the University of Phoenix in Computer Information Systems. When he’s not assisting clients, he loves to cook, read and run – sometimes completing multiple marathons in a single year.
Catherine Forman has worked in corporate communication for nearly two decades, developing a deep expertise in strategic planning and employee engagement. Formerly the Vice President of Corporate Communications at Quantum Corporation – which grew from fewer than 1,000 to about 11,000 employees during her tenure – Catherine understands that effective internal communication can make a real difference in a company’s performance.
"Employee engagement is driven by a complex set of motivations, and a strong, effective internal communication program can really motivate people in ways that improve business performance and the bottom line," she said.
Since joining ROI Communication in 2003, Catherine has helped manage a wide range of projects, with a special focus on strategy, communications and change management, and measuring the effectiveness of communications within large organizations.
Making an analogy between good internal communication and another of her passions – rock-climbing – Catherine believes that both require a strategic approach, a focus on mechanics and no small measure of finesse. "If you succeed in combining those elements well, you can overcome even the most daunting challenges."
During her decade at Quantum and the company that acquired it, Maxtor Corporation, Catherine was responsible for the development and execution of the company’s internal and external communication strategies, and worked closely with senior executives on a full range of communication initiatives and investor relations.
Catherine began consulting in 2001, working with a diverse set of clients including the University of Colorado Foundation, Lefthand Networks, ONStor, Maxtor and Wyatt & Jaffe. She holds a B.A. in Economics from the College of William and Mary, and an M.A. in Economics from Stanford University.
Rowing stroke for the University of Southern California, it was Kerstin Fuller’s job to set the pace for her boat and get all her teammates pulling in perfect synch. As a consultant for ROI Communication, she helps clients communicate and collaborate in a similar way.
“If someone in the boat was out of rhythm or not quite pulling their weight, you could feel it,” Kerstin said. “Companies are similar. Organizations function best when everyone is working in unison and performing at their full potential.”
Kerstin helps teams improve performance in part by asking a lot of questions. This reveals not just what their goals are, but their strengths and weaknesses. Usually, performance issues are not about motivation, but other factors, she said.
Kerstin joined ROI Communication in 2015 from Lanyon, a company whose cloud-based management system helps facilitate registration and tracking at large events such as conferences, athletic events and trade shows.
Earlier, she worked in ad sales at MTV, in Human Resources at CUSO Financial Services, and in Marketing at Qualcomm, which honored her with its prestigious QualStar award for exceptional performance.
A San Diego native, Kerstin earned a BS in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. When she’s not working, she enjoys country music, reading thrillers, college football, running and watersports. She lives in Dallas.
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
As an expert in change management, Lesli Gee helps organizations achieve their full potential. “Change management and communication are two sides of the same coin. You can’t achieve change without communicating effectively, but communication alone won’t transform organizations unless you also shift strategy, structure and culture,” she said. “I love helping organizations do all of that.”
Lesli, who joined ROI Communication in 2002, has spent more than two decades helping executives design and execute large-scale change initiatives to strengthen organizational culture, streamline processes and improve performance. She has worked closely with leaders at Adobe, Cisco, Gap, Hewlett-Packard, PepsiCo, Safeway, Toyota, Walgreens and other leading companies to help their organizations adapt to new challenges and achieve their business goals.
Prior to joining ROI Communication, Lesli was the director of Internal Communications and Organizational Development for Maxtor Corporation, where she built internal communication, organizational development and training capabilities following the $6 billion Maxtor-Quantum HDD merger. Earlier, Lesli worked as director of Talent Development at Quantum Corporation, and managed Aetna Life & Casualty’s Training and Development Field Services team.
Lesli earned a B.S. in Business Administration from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.S. in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco. She is also past president of the Mt. Diablo Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development. She has won numerous industry awards for her work, and in 2012 was named as one of the “Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business.”
When she’s not advising clients, Lesli enjoys hiking, biking, skiing and camping with her family, and runs marathons to raise money for charity.
Vice President, Strategist
Vice President, Strategist
When Catherine Jordan communicates, she strives for three things: honesty, transparency and clarity. “If you truly want to connect with people you need to be authentic,” she said. And for more than a decade, Catherine has been helping companies transform their communications and culture to meet this exacting standard.
“I believe in using real language, not jargon,” said Catherine, who feels that effective communication flows in large part from empathy with an audience – a quality too often lost in corporate communication. A seasoned writer, editor and strategist, Catherine began her communications career in the financial world, as a Communications Manager at Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan Chase. In these roles, she developed some early intranets and supported executive communication. She also handled internal crisis communications for Merrill Lynch International in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, which she witnessed on the way to work.
After leaving Wall Street, Catherine worked as a consultant who developed award-winning communications programs for clients that included MasterCard, AstraZeneca, BNY Mellon, IKEA, ITT, PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson and Wyeth. She then served as Senior Manager for Internal Communications at Philips Home Healthcare Solutions, a division of the global conglomerate with six thousand employees, and later managed internal communications at Pershing, a BNY Mellon company. She joined the ROI Communication team in 2014.
A native of New York City, Catherine now lives in New Jersey. She earned a B.A. in International Studies and French from Manhattan College and an M.A. in Corporate and Public Communication from Seton Hall University. When she’s not counseling clients, she pursues her passions for travel, photography and music. In 2002-2003, she took a creative sabbatical and drove across the United States, visiting about 20 national parks and shooting more than 200 rolls of film. During that time, she also attended 26 Bruce Springsteen concerts, including 10 nights at Giants Stadium.
“I respond to his authenticity,” she said. “Like any great leader or communicator, Bruce listens to his audience and reflects our experiences in his songs. I think he’s a storyteller and a poet.”
As a reporter for Reuters, Marta Karpinska-Dean translated complex issues into concise narratives, with total accuracy, on tight deadlines. Now she brings those same skills to bear for corporate clients, helping them engage their employees through more effective internal communication.
“Today’s corporate messages are often very complex, which makes them hard for employees to decipher,” Marta said. “My goal is always to make sure that any given message is not just simple, clear and accurate, but that it will resonate, too. You have to know your audience.”
Marta, who joined the ROI Communication team in 2014, began her career as a journalist at The Warsaw Business Journal in her native Poland, where she covered the media and advertising markets for Warsaw’s most popular English-language weekly. Later, she worked as an international correspondent for Reuters in its Warsaw bureau, reporting on financial, economic and political news across Europe.
After moving to the United States in 2004, Marta joined the corporate communication team at Petco Animal Supplies, the national pet store chain, where – in addition to her human colleagues – her officemates included fish, snakes, dogs, birds, rats and the occasional bearded dragon. “I’ve seen some crazy animals,” she said.
Marta speaks multiple languages – Polish, Russian and English, among others – and believes that this ability enables her to choose words with greater objectivity and care. “If it’s your second language, you treat it with respect,” she said. A graduate of the University of Warsaw with an MA in English Philology, she specialized in American Studies and Linguistics.
The mother of two, Marta loves to cook and is a voracious reader of news and non-fiction. She lives near Los Angeles.
As a practitioner of Bikram Yoga, Tonia King strives for holistic perfection, knowing that there is always room for improvement. She approaches communication the same way – no matter how good it may seem, it can always be better.
“Communication is about creating connections and helping people understand their role in a bigger picture,” Tonia said. “When companies communicate well, it doesn’t just inspire people to do their work better, it helps people enjoy it more, too.”
Tonia joined ROI Communication in 2014 with more than 15 years of experience in senior communications and marketing roles in the healthcare, hospitality, education and public relations industries. She began her career at Haight, Brown & Bonesteel, a Santa Monica public relations firm, before returning to her alma mater in Florida, Rollins College, where for five years she helped manage its marketing.
Later, Tonia moved on to direct corporate communications for Wyndham Vacation Ownership, where she led a team that directed executive communications, media relations, public policy, internal communications, crisis communications, community relations and investor relations. After five years in the hospitality industry, Tonia shifted into healthcare, consulting with the CEO of Nemours Children’s Hospital to help open the first new pediatric hospital in central Florida in more than 30 years, and later served as Manager of IT Communications for Kaiser Permanente. In this latter role, she led internal communications for a $500 million technology upgrade, advised executives on internal communication strategy and produced guides, presentations, Intranet sites and events to strengthen employee engagement.
“I’ve found that organizations that operate with transparency get much more buy-in from employees and perform much more effectively,” Tonia said. “It always boils down to being 100 percent truthful and providing as much information as possible.”
In addition to her BA in Organizational Communication, Tonia earned an MA in Corporate Communication & Technology and an 18-week Mini-MBA, all from Rollins College. When she’s not advising clients or practicing yoga, Tonia is a busy mother of three and a voracious consumer of pop culture, from magazines to movies to TV.
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Sheryl works closely with ROI clients to offer strategic counsel on a range of key initiatives including strategy, change management, leadership alignment and social media.
Prior to joining ROI in 2002, Sheryl worked for 15 years at Quantum Corporation, one of the world’s leading storage suppliers for personal and enterprise computers. At Quantum, she served in a broad array of roles that included VP of Talent Management, Director of Management and Organizational Development, Director of Business Excellence and Director of Product Marketing.
When Quantum merged with Maxtor in 2001, Sheryl was part of the merger negotiating team that resolved complex details of the transaction. Prior to joining Quantum, Sheryl worked in New York as an economics consultant to Fortune 500 companies at Data Resources, Inc.
Sheryl earned a B.A. in Economics from Cornell University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. She speaks regularly at national events on the topics of mergers and acquisitions, change management, leader and manager communications, measurement and social media as a tool for employee engagement.
Web Architect and UX Design Expert
Web Architect and UX Design Expert
As someone who races Hawaiian outrigger canoes, Scott Lum is no stranger to challenges, whether those are high winds, big waves or tough competitors. And when it comes to his work designing rich user experiences on the web, he approaches it with the same awareness and intensity.
Scott, who began collaborating with ROI Communications in 2010, started his career in product development and system manufacturing in the semiconductor industry. He then became an onsite applications engineer for several years before advancing to sales and marketing roles at a variety of high-tech companies. An entrepreneur at heart, Scott started his first web design company in 1994, securing angel investment funding and landing clients such as Sun Microsystems, 3Com and TV station KOFY WB20. Scott currently focuses on web UI/UX design and information architecture, helping companies build web solutions featuring great user experiences.
Scott earned a BS in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in Software Programming from San Jose State University. He has also served as an advisory board member to various startups, including Thrive Research, a software company creating wellness-related software in collaboration with Stanford’s School of Medicine. When he’s not working with clients or racing his outrigger canoe, Scott volunteers at an animal shelter to help rehabilitate lost or abused German Shepherds so they can be placed in good homes.
A well-rounded and versatile communicator, Bobbi Padilla helps clients seamlessly and effectively execute complex, time-sensitive projects that range from worldwide company meetings to newsletter publishing to multi-pronged integration efforts in the aftermath of large-scale acquisitions.
Known for her grace under pressure, Bobbi’s style is no-nonsense and hands-on. Much of her focus in recent years has been on projects, small and large, for Hewlett Packard. For HP, she handled critical aspects of all-hands meetings, from designing program content to overseeing volunteer support staff to working with technology crews managing multi-media presentations. Editing through hours of raw video footage, she drew on her background in film to create compelling year-end video retrospectives for divisions within the company. In staging events held simultaneously live and via webcast, she honed her skills in effectively managing and coordinating multiple vendors at a time.
In the wake of successive large-scale acquisitions at Hewlett Packard, Bobbi partnered with HP executives to create new employee tool kits and communication vehicles for a mentoring program that paired veteran HP employees with new hires.
Prior to joining ROI, Bobbi served as Coordinator of Development for Catch 23 Entertainment in Hollywood. There she worked closely with screenwriters, directors and actors to prepare film projects for the screen. Her work required balancing the artistic integrity of a film with its financial viability.
Bobbi received her B.A. in Film Studies with an emphasis in documentary film production from Yale University. She speaks both Spanish and Italian.