Here's a tip of the hat to a Canadian who is doing the unusual: Greg Young, a University of Saskatchewan and University of Toronto grad, whose parents were missionaries in South Korea, has taken the top corporate communications job at Mazda Motor Co. in Japan.
Young, reports Automotive News, took over as general manager of global corporate communications at Mazda on July 2. He had been deputy general manager since 2011.
Japanese car companies are not in the habit of promoting a non-Japanese person to head global corporate communications, though Nissan Motor is the other exception. There, the Englishman Simon Sproule heads global corporate communications. Before Nissan, Sproule had been head of Jaguar's public relations in North America.
Young, before going to Japan, was director of public relations at Mazda Canada. Before that, he headed public affairs at Hyundai Canada.
I've known Greg Young. 55, for more than 25 years and during that time I've learned a little of his story, and it's a good one. He grew up in post-Korean War South Korea as the son of missionaries, and it was not a glamorous childhood, though certainly an interesting one. There, he learned the language and developed an appreciation for the subtleties of Asian cultures. He speaks Korean, by the way, and when I saw him last December in Hiroshima, Mazda's headquarters, he told me he is working on his Japanese.
After the U of S, Young moved to Toronto where he did a master's degree in political science and contemplated a career as a diplomat with External Affairs. In a way, that ambition has been fulfilled with this latest appointment at Mazda. Corporate communication types need to be very diplomatic with audiences both inside and outside the company – and now he has that international posting, too.
It's always great to see a Canadian make an international splash.