Sean Suggs is leaving his role as president of Toyota Mississippi after three years to take on a new full-time corporate position.
In July, Toyota named Suggs group vice president, chief social innovation officer for Toyota Motor North America, or TMNA, effective September 1. Suggs has remained at the Blue Springs facility until recently, but the larger role with the company necessitated a move to Plano, Texas, where TMNA is headquartered. Suggs replaced Albert “Al” Smith Jr., TMNA group vice president and chief social innovation officer, who retired after 30 years with the company.
Suggs was named the fourth president of Toyota Mississippi on Jan. 1, 2017. He joined Toyota in 1998 as team leader of Toyota’s assembly plant in Princeton, Indiana. During his tenure, he served in several roles and was named general manager of quality planning in 2008. In this leadership role, Suggs oversaw professional development, vehicle quality and manufacturing quality for current and new model production.
Our Mississippi Magazine talked with Suggs to discuss his new job and time in Mississippi.
Our Mississippi: Now that the time has come for you to leave Toyota Mississippi, what sticks out to you the most working with the group in Blue Springs?
Sean Suggs: I never let the Decibels impact the Deed! Meaning I never let any stereo types impact my engagement or impact. This is a bright and vibrant region and we need to keep the momentum going.
OM: What will you miss most about the Northeast Mississippi community?
Suggs: My team members, my friends and our relationships to help make our communities better. Every year we were always looking for better ways to support and offer solutions to some of the systemic regional issues.
OM: You served on numerous boards and committees. What were you able to learn about the people and communities you affected in those roles?
Suggs: What I have learned is that North East Mississippi has outstanding leadership with common goals on making the region better, from the Create Foundation, CDF, Tree of Life, Boys and Girls clubs and so on. My time on the state board of education was also very important. No longer can anyone say that MS is last in Education. Great progress is being made.
OM: 2020 has been a tough year for so many having to deal with the coronavirus. What did you learn about your team at Toyota and how you’ll were able to handle things?
Suggs: I learned that I have the best team members in the world. They believe in each other and support one another. Perseverance and Teamwork continues to get us through. Our Team Members know and believe that their health and safety is our number one Priority. They know it’s not just lip service. They see the protocols, processes and communications.
OM: What will your new role be in Plano and what are some of your duties there?
Suggs: I will be responsible for promoting “Limitless Possibilities for All” meaning the entire Toyota North Americas focus on Strategic Partnerships, Diversity and Inclusion, Social Innovation and Multi-Cultural Partnerships internal and external to our company. Our company’s move to be a mobility company is our Aim. My team will help support making that happen.
OM: When will you be leaving and taking on your duties fully in Texas?
Suggs: My role as the Group Vice President of Social Innovation will be at 100% as of January 4th, 2021. I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait for year 2021 to come. 2020 has been one of a kind.
OM: What words would you like to leave for your friends and colleagues in Mississippi?
Suggs: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced”. James Baldwin. Please continue to look for better ways to support our team members and the communities in which they live it. Our Company, County and State has a lot of momentum. We must keep it going.