At this year’s North American International Auto Show, the newest, most stunning vehicles with cutting-edge technology were placed on display. From Jan. 11-24, 2016, automakers such as Toyota, Chevrolet, Buick, and Nissan occupied downtown Detroit, along with some of the key figures in the automobile industry.
Alva Adams Mason, director of African American business strategy and corporate communications at Toyota, was one important auto employee who attended. She works with the company’s African American PR and media multicultural group in order to enhance the minority media presence within Toyota.
Rolling out sat down with Mason to discuss the high points of the auto show, and why it’s important for Toyota to give back to the African American community.
Let’s talk about the 2016 NAIAS. Specifically, Toyota scored big at the First Diversity Awards. What has this week been like for you so far?
This has been a great, great week here at the Detroit Auto Show. I started off with one of my favorite projects, the Toyota Walk In My Boots campaign that’s in partnership with The Salvation Army. We gave out over 200 pairs of boots to families in need, so that’s a great project. And so, this was our fifth year doing that project. Sunday night was a great night. We won 10 awards at the Diversity Volume Leadership Awards. We’ve been working for a long, long time in the communities, engaging in the communities, giving to the communities, because they are important to us. But, that evening showed us that the communities love Toyota, and they gave back to us as well. And so, we appreciate what they are doing for us.
You talk about Toyota’s outreach programs, particularly for the African American community. Why is it important to stay ahead of that and make sure that the brand continues to not just try and sell cars, but to also support the voice in the community?
Well, our community is very, very important to us. Our community gives to us. And so it is important to us to let our communities know how much we care about them. We’ve achieved quite a bit, but without our communities, we can’t achieve anything. I can’t express to you enough how important it is for us to give back and let them know that Toyota cares.
Let’s talk about your position. Can you give us some advice to individuals who might be in college today thinking about following your career path?
OK, so I was an accounting major, which is very, very different from what I am doing now. However, when I started at Toyota over 16 years ago, I was really, really interested in the community relations area. At that time, they didn’t have any positions. So, what I did is I volunteered. So if your eyes fall on something or your heart is in something you really want to do, 9 times out of 10, a lot of those positions are very, very popular, and they may not be available. That doesn’t mean that you give up all hope. Jump in, volunteer, learn the job, so when there is an opportunity that becomes available, you have all that [experience]. It doesn’t matter if you volunteer to learn the job, or you’re paid to learn the job.