Rie Miyake to lead Honda Cars PH as new president

As is tradition with Japanese automakers in the Philippines, the first of April usually signals the start of change.

April is of course the start of a new fiscal (financial) year that is observed rather strictly by Japanese companies as opposed to the calendar year by Philippine companies. That also means it’s a good time for a change-up of executives, particularly for top brass that has completed a typical 3-year assignment in the country.

That will indeed be the case for Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) this year as Masahiko Nakamura will be completing his 3-year term as HCPI president. But that’s not all: insiders tell us that Nakamura-san is likely completing his career with Honda and retiring afterwards.

UPDATE: Nakamura originally planned on retiring, but will instead be moving to South Korea as a senior consultant for Honda's operations there. 

Nakamura’s tenure hasn’t been easy, to say the least. He had the unusually difficult challenge of navigating HCPI through the after-effects of the assembly line shutdown at Laguna, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. When he assumed the HCPI president post on April 1, 2020, the country was only about 2 weeks into the lockdown.

Nakamura undoubtedly leveraged his 30+ years of experience at Honda in various business posts to get the company through a difficult time. If he is retiring (they have yet to officially announce it) we can truly say he caps off a career at HCPI knowing it is sailing more smoothly than when he took the helm.

So the question will be who will succeed Nakamura as HCPI president? Who is the new man for the job?

Honda PH Nakamura image

The answer actually doesn’t fit the question, as Nakamura’s successor will not be a male Japanese executive. A lady will assume the primary leadership role at Honda Cars Philippines.

The name of the incoming president is Miss Rie Miyake.  

Miyake-san is actually making a bit of history in the local auto industry because she will be the first lady president of a Japanese automobile company here. 

There is a history of senior lady executives with other non-Japanese brands. Prior to the arrival of Hyundai Motor, local distributor HARI was fiercely and successfully led by Fe Agudo for many years. Maricar Parco led the previous BMW distributor, while Ginia Domingo led the local Kia distributor.

But in terms of regular assignments and executive rotations, it was Ford Philippines that was the first to appoint a lady expat to lead the brand as their managing director with Kay Hart in 2013. She has since moved up in the organization to lead Ford’s International Markets Group; a very senior post that oversees basically most of Ford’s markets outside of North America.

In the case of Japanese auto brands, that's not as common. As you may well imagine, no Japanese auto company in the Philippines has ever had a lady executive in the top spot. Honda was one of the first to start the change when they appointed a Japanese lady as vice president a few years ago in Misa Abe. Perhaps the appointment of Miyake signals a change that could also happen in other Japanese automakers here, in the future. 

Truth be told, it’s hard to find anything on incoming HCPI president Miyake. Normally when we get a name of an executive, we can already spot what their experiences have been with the company, but the incoming HCPI president is very much a mystery. She will have a challenge on her hands as the market still struggles with supplies brought about by the pandemic, a war, and a drive for electrification.

We’ll know more about what the next few years will bring for Honda when they officially introduce her to us at the end of March.