At Toyota Motor North America, Erika Doolittle’s team has been working to raise student awareness about Toyota’s technician and certification programs at the Boys & Girls Club, an after school program, so that students, if interested, can start the internship programs when they get into high school.
Though the company is involved on the national level with the Boys & Girls Club, Toyota is also heavily involved with The Boys & Girls Club of Collin County. The nonprofit enables youth between ages 5 and 18 to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens through a variety of after school and summer programs. The club also offers new virtual youth programs and follows all CDC COVID-19 safety guidelines.
“We’re working to give access to Boys & Girls Club kids and an understanding of what kind of careers they can get at Toyota or other companies,” Erika told Local Profile as part of the Local Leaders series on Facebook Live! “It doesn’t have to be that you strive to go to a traditional four-year degree (at a university). Right here are amazing certifications [like the EA Toyota technician certification] and these kids can strive to make six figures. We want kids to think about it and we want parents to think about it.
“A four-year degree is not right for everybody. First of all, it’s extremely expensive. It’s very competitive. And that doesn’t mean just because you can’t do it that you can’t be successful in a different way.”
Erika is the senior manager of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Social Innovation department at Toyota Motor North America. She helps develop and support strategies around Workforce Readiness and Community Sustainability. Erika identifies ways to create opportunities and inclusion to strengthen communities and help Toyota create a more diverse and skilled workforce pipeline from the local communities.
She joined Toyota in 2009 and served as a leader in the Toyota Financial Services marketing department where she oversaw strategies and operations that generated loyalty and engagement of 4.1 million customers. She also led internal and external brand strategies for customers, dealers, and team members. For example, she created and led the first-ever customer lifecycle program for Toyota and Lexus Financial Services that helped increase retention across multiple channels.
“It definitely takes a village,” Erika says of their pilot program with the Boys & Girls Club. “It’s a big effort, and so we’re kind of in throes of that right now and waiting to see what kind of impact we will make with that.”
Toyota takes community involvement seriously. When the COVID-19 outbreak first struck the area in February and March, Erika says they went into the communities and assessed what the biggest need was. They realized that food was one of the biggest needs. On TV, they were seeing the long lines of people waiting to get food. “So we said, ‘Ok, we want the first thing we do is support our food banks and food pantries in our operating area to help them distribute food.”
The next community need they identified was a huge need for Collin County’s underserved communities. They helped to provide technology and connectivity, food, and mental health for the youth.
“We haven’t had to pivot too much, but it’s just kind of validated the importance of everything we do,” Erika says. “If anything, we need more money and more funds and more resources to be able to help because of conflict.
“I know this probably sounds cliche, but the first thing I will say is that we’re really all in it together. So it is about giving back and investing in our communities in a genuine way. It’s not about getting your brand name on everything. It’s really about making an impact. When you work in your community, you meet your neighbors, you build strong relationships, so you are personally able to understand what the needs are.
“Toyota prides itself in doing that.”
Toyota Motor North America, Inc. | 6565 Headquarters Dr, Plano | 800.331.4331
Local Leaders by Local Profile is an ongoing video series featuring incredible local leaders sharing their best leadership insights. Going beyond business, Local Leaders aims to inspire and motivate you to become the best version of yourself. It broadcasts LIVE via the Local Profile Facebook page (click here.)