Having just reached the milestone of 21 years with Toyota Finance Australia, Sascha Towson’s career has been all about connection and collaboration.
Sascha loves that TFA are so passionate about their people and team connection is important to her. She has taken advantage of every opportunity to join cross-functional project teams and shares her ideas on how to create a career through collaboration.
Loyalty to One Company
When Sascha interviewed with TFA she loved the fact that their people are so important, and “it sounded like a really good team to work with. There was a great cultural fit; they are a team that gets work done but have fun and enjoy themselves.”
20 years later, she confirms, “it’s absolutely the same. I’ve been in three departments over the 20 years and it’s always been amazing groups working together and people sharing their expertise. The Japanese philosophy is well embedded into the culture – respect for people and kaizan, which means continuous improvement.”
The motor finance industry was still new when Sascha joined TFA, and in the 20 years she’s seen TFA grow from 300 to 1200 people. It was all paper-based and she can still recall everyone receiving their own email accounts. Now the business is more complex, looking to sustainability, future mobility and broadening the future direction.
Building a Career Through Collaboration
Sascha loves working on projects where everyone is working together to achieve a common outcome.
“People can easily fall back into working with their team silos. It’s really good to branch out and work with people from other areas that you wouldn’t normally get to work with. This is where working for a mid-sized corporation means you can be involved and collaborate with different departments. I’ve made amazing connections with people I still keep in touch with.”
Sacha worked in cross functional teams for Y2K implementation when she says, “the whole world was preparing for computers to collapse overnight and everyone got involved,” and a fleet management system upgrade, “it was exciting to be part of that, seconded into a new area and get exposure to the background data and technology that goes into making this all happen.”
To build your own career through relationships and collaboration, Sascha offered some tips:
- Always put your hand up to be involved in projects.
- Look for internally advertised positions, where there is often room for growth and lateral moves.
- Talking to lots of different people.
- If you’re passionate about doing something speak to your manager about it so they can help you find that opportunity.
“The only thing holding you back is yourself, there are so many opportunities!”
Breaking Ground with Parental Leave and Flexible Work
Sascha has three children. At the time of their births Toyota Finance did not have paid parental leave. When Sascha moved into an HR role, she was part of the team that introduced paid parental leave across TFA in 2009.
“It was great to see the company moving forward and introducing paid parental leave. We’ve now recently upgraded that to remove gender terminology and instead offer primary and secondary carers’ leave. It’s great to see the company remove that gender-based bias.”
Sascha also approached the company with a request to return from parental leave on a part time basis. This flexibility was not part of the company policy at that time. However, after discussion and consideration TFA agreed that where appropriate, returning parents may be able to work part time.
Sascha was very excited to work on the parental leave project because she wanted to support people coming back from leave to remain connected and feeling part of the team while they were away.
Her passion for the project was driven by her desire to support other mothers and fathers, which aligns with her overall career theme of connection, collaboration and strong relationships.
At TFA, “they are very forthcoming with everyone championing their own professional development.” Sascha has taken many opportunities to identify skills gaps and then upskill.
She appreciates opportunities to learn and grow, and says, “If you’ve got the right tools then the outcome is going to be much better.”
On reflection she says, “sometimes I can’t believe I’ve been here for 21 years!”
“Toyota Finance is unique in that it’s going great guns in the market and we’re providing a benefit to the dealerships. They’re leading the charts in the car sales, and we’re reliable! The people are amazing, and we are always evolving. There are always new projects and a new direction for the company.
When you bundle that all together, I’ve managed to have three children, a good variety of roles and I get great exposure to all walks of life and all tiers of management within the company. I think it’s great!”