Susann Kazunas
General Manager
Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America
Erlanger, KY

“My role model is a previous Japanese advisor, Kiyochika Soma, currently body operations general manager at Toyota Tahara manufacturing plant. He set high expectations that employees demonstrate self-development with each assignment. He continuously coached employees, patiently sharing his knowledge, constantly teaching for good process in addition to good results.”

Susann is the Toyota lead in North America for Stamping Production Engineering and die design. As part of Toyota’s North American self-reliance activity, Susann investigated the manufacturing resources required in metal stamping and developed a staffing guideline for all of Toyota’s North American Stamping shops to follow. She drew on her experience as a Stamping Production manager at Toyota’s largest stamping shop in North America and was able to get buy-in from the other Toyota facilities, as well as the parent company.
 
Susann joined Toyota as a co-op student at the company’s Kentucky plant in Georgetown. When she finished her education, she was hired as a specialist, and has worked in tool and die, maintenance and production. After becoming a leader in those fields, she moved on to the design side of the business. 
 
Susann is setting a strong direction for the future of stamping at Toyota in North America. Since her transition into the Production Engineering role, there has been an industry trend toward vehicle weight reduction and improved safety. Susann participates in executive-level meetings to determine what the vehicle structure of the future will look like, and then brings back that vision to the Stamping department to make it a reality. 
 
Susann is motivated and intelligent, with a passion for developing her team members and encouraging them to be lifelong learners. She is organized and skillful in giving structure to complicated processes. Susann also has a unique talent in bridging the gap between the technical and the soft side of manufacturing.  She is adept at the HR issues that arise, and has become a master of the technical issues as well.

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