Advice to a College Graduate from Jim Taylor
Jim Taylor has been the CEO of Hummer since October of 2008. Prior to that, he was the General Manager of Cadillac. Since beginning his GM career in 1980 with GM of Canada Limited in Oshawa, Ontario as an industrial engineer, Jim Taylor progressed through several production and purchasing positions, including management positions at Saturn, Adam Opel, Worldwide Purchasing and GM Truck. Taylor was appointed Cadillac General Manager in 2004, and was responsible for the division’s global product, marketing and promotional activities.
Although Taylor is a skilled tactician and engineer, his creative side is exercised through music—he is a concert-level pianist. He also spends free time enjoying the open road on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Question: How would you advise someone looking to begin a dynamic career?
Taylor: That’s a tough question these days because, you know, you said it a few times and we’ll not deny it… the auto industry is a tough business globally. You know, some basic statistics gets you there pretty fast from economics 101, whenever you have an over supply compared to demand and you have global countries that in many cases, there are [IB] from third to second world or second or the first world as an auto industry and it’s out of jobs and it’s export based, there’s always somebody new coming after your market share and whether it was Japan, then Korea, now China, you know, next India. It’s a tough business, it’s not for the faint of heart. And so folks that are willing to get in, have a pretty good ride, make a lot of money, and have a good time is probably not the place to come but on the other extreme, some of the questions that you’ve asked for people that are really into something that’s truly global and very very competitive, highly technical and I think the other fascinating part is everybody has one. I mean, if you pick many other products and businesses that people are in and you ask them, “What do you do?” and then they describe it and you, “Oh, that sounds kind of interesting,” but the odds maybe of you ever touching that product in your life would be pretty slim and you’ll come to the other extreme of, guess, iPod, you’d say, everybody’s going to have one and if they have their way but in cars, everybody has one and everybody has an opinion. And so it’s a fascinating business and can highly leverage in with government policies and you know, world oil prices, so we really think it’s the Super Bowl of products and industries to be involved in and very exciting but I would highlight again, not for the faint of heart.
Taylor warns that his is a tough business, but that the universality of car ownership makes it the "Superbowl" of manufacturing.
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