Toyota Financial Services‘ (TFS) Vice President of Group Sales Joanna Dean strengthened relationships with Toyota and Lexus dealerships through the development of national programs and incentives focused on increasing market share in automotive retail and leasing.
Dean has spent his entire career at TFS and was appointed Vice President of Sales in October 2019 after nearly 20 years in various management, sales, marketing and operations roles within the captive. Today, she is responsible for working closely with Toyota and Lexus divisions to provide financing, insurance and voluntary protection products to more than 1,300 dealer partners.
Dean has witnessed the shift in shopping practices amid the pandemic as consumers move away from the four walls of finance and insurance offices towards electronic contracts and signing. In 2020, TFS and Lexus Financial Services (LFS) launched electronic signature and remote e-contract capabilities that dealers can use and since then, e-contract usage among its dealers has averaged 92% per month.
The transition to online contracting has supported Dean’s efforts to prioritize sales growth and credit decision making for TFS dealer partners.
Auto Finance Excellence spoke with Dean about her ever-changing leadership style and how she leverages creativity in problem solving.
Excellence in automotive financing: What are your business goals in about 10 words or less?
Joanna Dean: Transforming the customer experience and being the trusted lender.
TFA: What is your favorite leadership advice you have received?
JD: I’ve received a lot of leadership advice over the years, so it’s hard to narrow down to just one. Those that still resonate with me include: Be bold. Don’t be afraid to take risks. You must move quickly. Forward progress is progress – don’t be paralyzed by perfection. And like Harry S. Truman said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
TFA: Who has had the greatest influence on your career?
JD: Many people have had a huge influence on my career. It’s not just one particular person or mentor; it’s actually a combination of great mentors and bad leaders. My mentors remind me to have the courage to take risks in order to develop and grow my career. When I think about some of the bad leaders I’ve worked with or know of, it taught me a lot about what to do differently to be the kind of leader I want to be for my team.
My parents also had a big impact on my career. As immigrants to America, they set high standards for work ethic and sacrifice. My father has a degree in architecture and was an architect before he left the Philippines. When he came here, he had to do odd jobs as a telephone book deliverer and as a draftsman. He eventually moved on to a career with an international hospitality and design company. My mother came to the United States with a nursing program. She didn’t know a single soul in the country and lived in multiple states to earn her citizenship and nursing credentials.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but their enormous sacrifices to leave their family and their country, as well as the expectations they had for their children, really demonstrated what it means to be committed. Throughout my life, I have tried to emulate even a small part of what they molded while I was growing up.
TFA: What do you think is the most underrated lending trend?
JD: The ability to buy a full line of business and consistently support entire product lines for an extended period of time. Loans are so competitive and lenders are often judged on rate alone. A true lending partner is one with whom you develop a relationship of trust; one that partners with customers and dealers and helps drive growth and success. Most importantly, a lender who will be there for you through the best times and the toughest.
TFA: What would your employees be surprised to learn about you?
JD: Few people know that I have a very creative side. When I was younger, I actually wanted to be an architect. I enjoy learning art, graphic design and interior design, and I have a passion for photography. I even spent time in Italy to study photography. Being in finance, my creative side has really helped me throughout my career, giving me a different perspective on things that may seem like black and white. Creativity was extremely helpful in problem solving and strategy development.
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