The Lexus Spain weblog has an extensive interview with Lexus CT 200h chief engineer Chika Kako, the first-ever woman chief engineer for a Lexus (or Toyota) vehicle — here are some translated quotes, by way of Kaizen Factor:
Former CT chief engineer Osamu Sadakata engineer set the bar high with the first version of the CT200h. Was it difficult to be his successor?
Of course (it was difficult being his successor). Sadakata is a very experienced person and taking over his work has been a great responsibility. It hasn’t been easy, especially because I am originally a materials engineer, so I’ve needed to cover certain areas in which I’d never worked. It has been a great challenge for me.
We know Japanese cultural idiosyncrasies insofar as women in the labor force. Could you tell us about the difficulties in leading this project being a woman?
I have been very lucky. I haven’t had great difficulties in that regard. On the other hand, I have had to make an extra effort given my particular area of expertise, since chief engineers usually come from fields such as chassis design and prototype development. These areas are very closely connected to the vehicle’s final production and thus more akin to the work of a chief engineer. In my case, I’ve always dedicated myself to the basic study of materials. While materials are a very important aspect of a vehicle’s production, if we take the final product into account, one needs other types of knowledge. I think that, in those fields, my expertise was insufficient.
…For me, nevertheless, this has been more a challenge than a difficulty. Besides, most people are nicer and more polite towards women (laughs), so this has not been an aggravation in carrying out my work. I have been very fortunate.