Dawn Ahmed figures it's natural that she works for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
Ahmed, 37, is Toyota Division's new national truck communications manager. Before that, the native of Pasadena, Calif., worked on one of the industry's most successful new-line launches: Scion.
She has been passionate about cars since her father took her to auto shows and races as a kid. At 16, she bought her first car, a 1959 Chevrolet she worked on in a body shop.
Ahmed joined Toyota's corporate planning department in 1997, after she earned a master's degree in business from UCLA and spent two years as a financial analyst. In 2000, she moved to the company's Genesis Group, which became Toyota's youth-targeted Scion unit.
Ahmed was Scion's first national advertising manager. The brand was launched in California in 2003 and rolled out nationally the next year. Ahmed developed plans encouraging young consumers to discover Scion.
Last June, Ahmed became Scion's national sales manager. She oversaw more than 100 marketing events each month, aimed at making Scion "a very small personal brand."
"Part of the challenge in starting and launching Scion was (that) we were marketing a lifestyle brand," Ahmed says. "That is a pretty big risk for an automaker." She says she is especially proud of being part of a team that developed a brand "that people are rallying around."
In her new post, Ahmed is working on the launch of the redesigned Tundra pickup early next year.