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Eller College Home > News, Events, and Multimedia > Press Releases > UA 2006 Executive of the Year

Press Release

Eller Press Contact

Liz Warren-Pederson
Eller College of Management

Toyota Executive to be Honored

Auto industry's "secret weapon" James E. Press named The University of Arizona 2006 Executive of the Year

TUCSON, Ariz. – February 24, 2006 – What do the hard-nosed, quintessentially boisterous “car guy” and Jim Press have in common?

Nothing — but the love of cars.

Contrary to accepted industry stereotypes, James E. Press, president and chief operating officer, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) presents an understated persona, swims to relieve job pressure, adheres to a hands-off management philosophy he calls “servant leadership,” and is quietly influencing the course of the American and global auto industry.

Press has been named The University of Arizona 2006 Executive of the Year by the Eller College of Management’s National Board of Advisors for his leadership and significant contributions to the American automotive industry. He will be honored for his achievements Friday, March 10, 2006, at the annual Executive of the Year Award Luncheon at the Westin La Paloma Resort, 3800 East Sunrise Drive, Tucson, Ariz. The luncheon takes place from 12:00 to 1:30 pm and is open to the public.

”Jim is one of the world’s very best executives. His leadership style is unassuming yet produces powerful results, as is evident by the immense success of Toyota in the U.S. and around the world. His story is one of a passion for excellence and an immutable respect for others. We can all learn from Jim’s example,” said Paul Portney, dean of the Eller College of Management.

Leading U.S. operations for one of the most innovative automakers in history, Press is taking Toyota to new horizons. With a history of success since joining TMS in 1970, and a host of industry awards to his name, he became the first American president of TMS. As president and COO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., he has overall responsibility for sales, marketing, and distribution for Toyota and Lexus in the United States. He has played a critical role in moving Toyota – and the automotive industry at large – forward.

The Toyota Camry has been the best-selling car in the United States for four years running, and the Prius leads sales in the hybrid category, currently in the limelight for its fuel efficiency. With the announcement last January of the convergence of the two – the Camry Hybrid – plus the popular Toyota Tundra and Tacoma trucks, and the restyling in the Lexus, the top-selling U.S. luxury brand, Toyota, with Press in the driver’s seat, is poised to continue its phenomenal success. In 2004, Fortune magazine called Press Toyota’s “secret weapon,” saying he “arguably has as much influence over the course of the American auto industry as anyone else alive.”

The University of Arizona Executive of the Year Award was established in 1983 by the Eller College of Management National Board of Advisors. The Award honors individuals who exemplify executive qualities in private enterprise and public service. Previous award recipients include Ted Turner, Turner Broadcasting, Jerry Colangelo, Arizona Diamond Backs and Phoenix Suns, Robert A. Eckert, Mattel Inc., and most recently Ann Fudge, Young and Rubicam Brands.

The luncheon is open to the public. The ticket price is $60 per person, or $600 for a table of 10. Tables or individual tickets may be reserved online at Ticket information questions may also be directed to Debra Rodriquez at 520.621.9954 or

The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona is internationally recognized for pioneering research, innovative curriculum, distinguished faculty, excellence in management information systems, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller undergraduate program No. 11 among public business schools and two of its programs are among the top 20 — Entrepreneurship and MIS. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller MBA Full-Time program No. 48 in the U.S. In addition to a Full-Time MBA program, the Eller College offers the No. 25-ranked Evening MBA program, the Eller Executive MBA and the Online MBA. The Eller College of Management supports more than 5,800 undergraduate and 800 graduate students on the UA campus in beautiful Tucson, Arizona, and on its satellite campus in downtown Phoenix.

Press Contact:
Liz Warren-Pederson, Eller College of Management

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