PROFILE: Renaissance Man - Paul Philpott, Commercial Director, Toyota

Article excerpt

The next few months for Paul Philpott are going to be a roller-coaster ride. Not only will he be getting to grips with the role of commercial director for Toyota and launching its new Avensis in March, he will also be faced with the daunting task of becoming a first-time father.

Though there's little that can prepare the 36-year-old for the changes to his family life, he is more than ready for the challenge of his new job.

Philpott has been with Toyota since 1997, joining at a pivotal time for the brand. Once it was seen as the reliable and safe - rather old and boring - choice, but it has gone through a rags-to-riches transformation.

Toyota's offices in Epsom send a powerful and relevant message. Everything - from the open-plan expanse flooded with sunlight, to the polished surfaces of the Toyota models on display - says 'modern' and 'vibrant'. There's even a model of Toyota's premium Lexus brand hanging upside down from the ceiling on wire cables. Despite Alan Partridge's endorsement of the brand, you can't fail to be impressed. Philpott likewise comes across as expansive and passionate. He exudes Toyota.

The philosophy at Toyota is to nurture your own. Hence he has been promoted to replace Mike Moran, and Philpott's replacement will be an internal candidate. Philpott is prepared for the broader remit of his new role and stresses that his experience has spanned many aspects of the motor industry, not only marketing. 'Toyota certainly believes in diversified experience for people coming through the company at all levels,' he says.

'The only way you get well-rounded senior management and directors of a company is if people are given the opportunity to learn different disciplines.'

John Wright, who heads the Toyota account at creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi, has worked with Philpott for five years. 'He's straightforward, single-minded and incredibly focused on building the brand,' he says.

'His inclusive approach means he builds great teams and gets the best out of people.'

Philpott studied finance at university and was sponsored by Midland Bank (now HSBC). After graduating, he worked there for a year but admits the job 'wasn't really me' and that marketing the product wasn't very stimulating.

Ford was advertising for a sales and marketing director and Philpott jumped at the chance to work in an industry he considered glamorous and to work for a brand 'everyone had an opinion on'.

At Ford he first got his taste of different disciplines: during his nine years there he was involved in field sales jobs, analytical jobs and production planning.

It is often said that car marketers tend to stick to their industry while marketers in other sectors flit from one to another. …

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