The automotive industry is projected to reach a value of $5.1 trillion by 2015 and employs millions worldwide in roles ranging from manufacturing to sales. To get a closer look at how MBAs fit into the automotive industry, BusinessBecause assembled a virtual panel of three MBAs with substantial experience in the industry. Meet your panelists...
Gregory Burgues, an HEC Paris and AGSM MBA, started in the automotive industry in 2002 while in engineering school and now works as Business Development Manager and Executive Assistant to the Managing Director at Mercedes-Benz France.
Burgues had previous experience at BMW France before attending HEC Paris for his MBA to gain more opportunities in the business world. During his time as an MBA student, Burgues did an exchange programme at AGSM in order to take AGSM’s high-quality finance and entrepreneurship electives. Now, Burgues is continuing his role in management and looks to take on higher responsibility soon.
IE MBA Sushant Kumar has worked in the automotive industry, specifically in agricultural machinery, since 2006. He said he realized that there are a lot of inefficiencies associated with tractor and construction equipment business model, which helped to drive his career in automotives; he said he wanted to help stakeholders reap the benefits of the equipment.
Currently, Kumar is an automotive-tractor and construction equipment specialist at engineering conglomerate Escorts Limited: “I feel proud of transforming the existing business model of financing this equipment from cost center to profit center,” Kumar said.
Imperial MBA Henry Asenso started his work in the automotive industry in 2010 as an assistant manager, then manager, at car parts supplier Unipart Automotive. He said he chose to attend Imperial for his MBA in 2012 because Imperial has an excellent reputation and focus on entrepreneurialism; he said he now looks to change management positions in the industry or to consulting so he can expose himself to a variety of roles.
And here is what they have to say...
What opportunities are available for MBAs in the automotive industry?
Asenso: From what I experienced, there are very little opportunities in the market. There aren't many specific programmes in the automotive business in the UK designed for MBA graduates. Although, some automotive businesses utilise MBA students for short-term projects, which may possibly lead to opportunities. I’m not sure if this will change in the future.
Burgues: MBA opportunities in the automotive industry are very rare, especially if you work for local subsidiaries of global headquarters. Mercedes Benz or BMW, in France, are only subsidiaries of the German headquarters and the main objective of those subsidiaries is to distribute cars. So it's mainly about sales and marketing positions and strategy.
I can say there are no MBAs at BMW France and Mercedes-Benz France (apart from some Directors of the Executive Committees, but they have a strong experience in the automotive industry). You will find more MBAs in German headquarters, in strategic departments. I guess MBAs will help change the future thanks to their very open-minded visions, developed abilities to adapt to all kind of people and strong energies to listen to innovative ideas and try new things.
Kumar: For MBAs, there are lot of opportunities in sales and marketing, supply chain and finance arenas. MBA graduates can work in sales teams to help companies increase market share; marketing teams to help develop and implement branding strategy; supply chain teams to help optimize the supply chain efficiency and control costs; or in finance to help augment sales through sales aid financing, to raise capital for expansion and new projects and support building investor relations and implementing mergers and acquisitions strategy.
What is your advice to MBAs looking to enter the automotive industry?
Asenso: If there is a specific program designed for MBA graduates, then I would recommend taking advantage of that.
Burgues: Switching to this industry is, in my opinion, very difficult. The best way might be first to join a strategy consulting firm that could help you get experience in this industry. MBAs have to keep their feet on the ground and build their career. Having an MBA certainly opens doors, but only if you can also justify a link between your former experiences and the destination you want to reach.
Kumar: MBAs who are keen to join automotive industry should work from ground level to understand the needs of the customers. They should be keen to implement strong change management strategies to re-engineer the existing business models. MBAs should be aware that innovation is the key and in present situation of consolidation, innovative business models can ensure success and sustainability.