Irving Miller '71
Business Administration- Finance | Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
For both business and nonprofits, Irving Miller’s leadership philosophy is simple: recruit good people, give them proper direction and the resources they need to get the job done and get out of their way.
“I‘ve seen a lot of different management styles, and the people I always dreaded working for were those who constantly micromanaged,” says Miller, who early last year retired as Toyota Motor Sales USA’s group vice president for environmental and public affairs after a 30-year sales and marketing career with Toyota. “So I developed a very hands-off leadership style.”
Miller was responsible for all Toyota, Lexus and Scion public relations activities in the United States; oversaw internal communications with employees and dealers; and supervised its multimillion-dollar philanthropic efforts and community relations.
For many years, he secured Toyota funding to support the Sigmund Weis School of Business’ summer Leadership Institute for Entrepreneurship program for high school students.
Miller encountered good role models early on when he played both football and basketball for the Crusaders. “In 1970 I was fortunate to be on a MAC championship football team,” he says. “We had strong coaches who provided us with the resources and knowledge necessary to get the job done. When you play a team sport, you have to do your job and rely on others to do theirs without interference—principles I’ve followed my entire life.”
After a brief stint selling life insurance, he took a regional sales office position with Chrysler Corporation in Valley Forge, Pa. That led to a position with American Motors Corporation and then, in 1980, to his first Toyota assignment in San Francisco.
Miller, who lives in Palos Verde Estates, Calif., currently chairs the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach, Calif., serves on the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra Association board and the board of Virginia Country Club. Previously, he served as the chairman and director of the L.A. Urban League (LAUL); director and president of the LAUL Automotive Training Center (a joint venture with Toyota); and as a board member of both Operation Hope and the Toyota Foundation.
“I’m a pretty lucky guy who’s been blessed with a very successful career and with a wonderful, supportive family,” says Miller. “If you have the time and resources, community service is not just morally but ethically the right thing to do. It’s also pretty gratifying when you see very needy kids graduate from college or stand up in front of a group of people and give an impressive presentation."
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