An interview with Andrea Carlucci, Vice President of Product & Marketing of Toyota Motor Italia

18 July 2022

Andrea Carlucci, Political Science with an international focus at Luiss in 1996. Chair, Vice President of Product & Marketing, former CEO of Toyota Motor Italia from 2015 to 2017.

Why did you choose to study at Luiss?

My family lived in Spain at the time, and wished to return to Italy while still having one foot in Spain.

Unlike other universities in the early 1990s, Luiss was already very advanced and best known for its Erasmus programs. My colleague and I were the first to benefit from the study abroad opportunities in Spain and the extension of the period from six months to one year.

As a Roman, I was very keen to interacting with exchange students and I got to create long-lasting friendships with people I continue to socialize today.

What career were you thinking of pursuing?

I dreamed to become a diplomat, and Luiss was most wanted given Pastorelli’s professorship at the time. Given the timing of the admission round, I chose to enroll in SIOI also because I could be admitted as an undergraduate. That is when I discovered that I did not want to pursue a diplomatic career. At that time too, I built friendships that are still ongoing. I then completed a Master’s degree to pursue a career in management and having a passion for engines, I had the opportunity to join Ford. I have worked for the automotive industry for 25 years, and learned to appreciate the different workstreams of the industry – including research and development, manufacturing, and design – and its significant social impact as in the mobility and freedom of movement of individuals. In fact, before the emergence of the low cost model, the freedom to travel was linked to the automotive industry. Today, we are moving towards micromobility vehicles where cars will become like iPhones, and we will require ecosystems that can connect these to cars.

Carbon neutrality, sustainability, and inclusion are the goals to be achieved by 2030. The automotive sector is constantly evolving. How do you envision the next 10 years?

We are experiencing a significant transformation that is constantly accelerating. Europe is on the cusp of an electrification push, although consumers are not ready for it. In any case, customers will determine the market demand for electric cars. At present, we cannot predict the real costs and economic impact of this push. Today, we can contain the costs of decisions made, for example, regarding the construction of batteries. We know that Europe requires raw materials sourced abroad, which begs the question whether it is a sustainable choice. I believe that we will not achieve carbon neutrality by adopting one solution. If we produce CO2 to extract the lithium needed for battery production, how can we ensure zero emissions at all levels? The solution is in discovering alternatives. Thanks to NRRP, hydrogen is back in vogue – this is a resource I believed in back in the day when I was CEO in Italy. Suffice to say that green hydrogen can also be produced in developing countries through solar panels and that the technology related to the use of this resource has already proven to be suitable for applications on trucks and boats, even if it needs to be optimized on cars.

Are you satisfied with your international career? Did you achieve your dreams?

I dream every day. I am satisfied because I am in a position that I enjoy. You do not make a career by chance. Everything you build is done with a lot of willpower and some luck. My driver was to hold high-level roles through which I could give direction to my work.

What does ‘leadership’ mean to you? Are there gender biases in leadership?

Leadership, today, is about creating teams. I currently lead teams of mostly young Italians whom I am very proud of. I give them credit for their skills, and their increasing adaptability and ability to be global citizens. I think there is a difference in the way men and women approach business. Women have more participatory leadership and listen more. Male leaders are also going in this direction. We are taking risks and being held accountable for responsibilities in a more participatory way at a time when it is difficult to focus on one direction only. Everything changes in each era, however today, we are called to manage young people who are readier to change than we are. We must listen to them, and learn from them who have so much to teach.

What advice would you give to young Luiss graduates?

Be curious. Curiosity is the driver of everything and a transversal skill. I see it in the way one looks around, reads, and studies. If I were an Italian student at Luiss today, I would invest in international subscriptions.

What is your relationship with Japanese culture?

I came into contact with this traditional culture when working at Toyota. Japanese and Italian cultures share similar traits. The Japanese have a great attention to rituals and formalities.

I often travel to Japan even with my family. I am fascinated by their culture of collective responsibility, something lacking and much needed in Italian culture.

They have a true participatory vision of “getting everyone in your boat rowing in the same direction”. We should learn from them and work on minimizing our predisposition to individuality. Understanding that collective responsibility is a very powerful concept and “self-interest comes after group interest” paves the way to launch an extraordinary force that not surprisingly has made Japan the world’s third most productive country.

At Toyota, we pursue this vision of the common good. The Japanese believe in the Handone which is an expression of freedom and represents the possibility that even the last of the workers can interrupt the production chain at any time to produce quality and the common good. It represents freedom but is also the responsibility to make a choice for the common good.

On the other hand, we Italians are distinguished by creativity. We must learn to better channel it by overcoming the dominance of individuality and thinking about the common good.

What is your relationship with sports?

I played lots of sports and have learned so much from teamwork. Sport is a metaphor for life. To quote a former volleyball coach, Velasco stated that eleven people do not go after a ball but must be aware of their role. This is to say that no one is worth less than the goleador and everyone has their own role that must be exercised with self-awareness. From an individual sport like swimming, I learned to develop self-motivation – a learning which I adopt in my role as manager. The feeling of loneliness has taught me to have the ability to reinvent myself, self-motivate, and motivate others.

Through my work, I also had the opportunity to approach Paralympic sports. Companies are leaning towards adopting the value of social inclusion. Paralympic sports shed light to these big social issues.

What is your motto?

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”, Oscar Wilde. You can be whoever you want and have the freedom to be yourself, that fills me with a great sense of peace.

How do you imagine yourself in 10 years?

With my family in a house in Tuscany that is now under construction and above all, I hope to get back to my passions such as reading, traveling for pleasure, and getting to know the places where I have been for work.

Chiara Rinaldi, Journalist

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