Talk about culture shock. In 1999, Jeri Yoshizu was a 30-year-old business systems analyst in Toyota's parts logistics operation when someone suggested she change jobs.
Toyota was starting the Genesis Youth Project, intended to bring teenagers and twentysomethings into Toyota dealerships. The group needed someone to create marketing strategies aimed at hip young people.
Yoshizu grabbed the job, and suddenly went from crunching numbers to crunching drumbeats.
She has proved to be adept at forecasting underground youth trends that she is the only Toyota employee to have joined Genesis and stayed on with successor Scion to the present day. For a company that rotates employees every three years or so, she has found a rock-solid niche.
"We're lucky to have Jeri," says Brian Bolain, one of Scion's national managers at its startup, who now works in Lexus marketing. "She has awareness of the (youth) market, and of trends here, in Asia and in Europe. It is instinctive and natural for her. When you have someone who thinks that way, it's organic. It happens because she sees it."