Fujio Cho, president of Toyota Motor Corp. (TM ), is known for his easygoing personality. But don't let his style fool you. Cho has set an ambitious course for his company--and is delivering. Despite a shrinking home market and worries about a slowdown in the U.S. in 2003, Cho, 65, has steered Toyota to record profits. The world's third-largest auto maker (after General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co.) posted a 90% jump in net profits, to $4.6 billion, during the half-year through September. Sales rose 15.4%, to $65.7 billion.
Cho's greatest legacy may be his commitment to making Toyota a truly global carmaker. He's expanding production in the U.S., moving into Eastern Europe, and making a huge bet on China, where Toyota opened its first factory last October. All told, Toyota wants 15% of the world's market--up from a current 10%.
To get there, Cho needs to nurture the Toyota culture of cost containment and quality. That's why he set up the Toyota Institute, an in-house executive-education program. Cho even moonlights as a lecturer. A fitting post for a master of international relations.
-- Boasts stock market capitalization of $94 billion, more than DaimlerChrysler (DCX ), Ford (F ), and GM (GM ) combined
-- Cinched deals for new factories in China, the Czech Republic, and Poland