Q&A: Akio Toyoda

The Toyota Motor Corporation president reflects on his time at Babson College – the lessons learned, his favorite memory and a little career advice

May 20, 2019
Special Connection -- Toyoda is pictured with Babson College President Emeritus Ralph Sorenson. Toyoda lived with the Sorenson family while he learned English and began his MBA studies at Babson. The two have maintained a close friendship ever since. 

What was your most memorable class at Babson?

My economics class with Professor William Casey. In Japan, teachers act like general managers. Professor Casey was more like a coach. So, I felt really encouraged.

Are there any lessons you learned as a Babson student that you use today as the president of Toyota Motor Corporation?

Always think like an entrepreneur. Toyota may sell cars in over 170 countries around the world, but we still need to think like a startup.

How do you stay connected to Babson today?

I keep in touch with President Emeritus Ralph Sorenson. He was like a second father to me in the United States. I have really fond memories of spending time with his family. I used to play soccer with his three kids. My son, who attended Babson as well, has a similar relationship with him.

What is your favorite Babson memory?

The library was brand new when I attended, and I really enjoyed it. I had my one corner, and if it was taken, I would just wait it out.

What advice do you have for graduates?

Have your own ideas, your own voice. You’ve learned the fundamentals, you’ve got the land, make the house your own.

Similarly, what advice do you have for students?

Don’t spend all your time in the library!

What do you most look forward to about being back on campus this May?

Visiting my old dormitory, Woodland Hill. And, playing soccer with the Sorenson family!
Reprinted with permission from Babson College: http://entrepreneurship.babson.edu/one-on-one-with-akio-toyoda/

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