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PROFILE


“My father was involved in the production side of cars, so I developed a passion for them from a young age,” says Kirby. Soon after completing a degree in


engineering, he realised that his calling was, in fact, within the motor industry – so, in 1994, he committed to learning every aspect of it. “In my career I’ve progressed from service to product planning, to parts. I was very lucky,” he says. Experiencing all facets of a business is now one of his leadership principles. In a sector that faces many


challenges, this thorough understanding has stood Kirby in good stead to lead the Toyota brand in the very exciting South African and greater African market. Staying competitive in Africa is his core focus and he believes Toyota’s products are ideally suited to the continent. “We’ve been successful so far largely because our product is reliable, rugged and can deal with tough road conditions and poor-quality fuels.” Kirby expects the African market to


see exponential growth of new vehicle sales, but warns that remaining a brand leader on the continent will require more than just sales. He says: “As a country,


“OFTEN TOO MUCH FOCUS IS PUT ON


STRATEGY AND NOT ENOUGH ON THE


EXECUTION OF THAT STRATEGY.”


we’re tied to the economic strength and growth of our region. The trick now is how to support the integration of the motor industry in the rest of Africa. So our thinking is to ensure that we play an active role in supporting the development of other manufacturing spaces in Africa and not see them as competitors, but rather as partners.” Faced with the daunting role of


growing a business in a fast-changing industry, Kirby believes in hard work and decisive action. “Often too much focus is put on strategy and not enough on the execution of that strategy,” he says. “It takes a lot longer, and is a lot more difficult, to have a complete understanding of the strategy and complete buy-in from everyone, so more attention needs to be given to execution – and time needs to be allocated to that.”


FOOT OFF THE PEDAL Even during his downtime, Kirby’s


never far from his brand. His favourite car in the TSAM stable – at least, currently – is the new Lexus LC 500. “I’m very excited about it. I was involved with the development of that vehicle when I was in Japan. It’s very close to my heart,” he says. Another favourite is his personal car,


the Landcruiser 200, which he says is ideal for journeys with his wife and three children and also serves his passion for mountain-biking and kite-surfing. “I’ve been kite-surfing for 15 years. I got involved when the sport was very new and the equipment wasn’t very good – and there were no YouTube videos on how to do it. So there were years of painful learning,” he laughs. As for his life philosophy, Kirby


answers: “I’ve always felt it’s important to keep my priorities of God, family and work in the right order.”


ANDREW KIRBY IS THE MAN IN THE DRIVING SEAT OF SA’S FAVOURITE CAR BRAND: TOYOTA. AS THE CEO OF TOYOTA SOUTH AFRICA MOTORS (TSAM), HE’S PROPELLED BY PASSION


TSAM’S LEADING MAN 15


WORDS: GAYE CROSSLEY. PHOTOGRAPHER: MICHELLE WASTIE


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