In the race to bring fully autonomous cars to the public, Martin Dion’s goal is to be among those in the figurative driver’s seat. During the past 12 months alone, the HEC Paris MBA alumnus has been promoted from overseeing sales at one car dealership to supervising the sales of used cars at 11 different dealerships in and around Paris. And that’s just for starters.
If all goes according to Dion’s plans, he will be in Japan working on self-driving cars in 2020, just in time to provide them for Tokyo’s Summer Olympics.
The fact that Dion can envision such a speedy career trajectory in the automotive industry isn’t by accident. As a participant in the Alliance Rotational Development Program-Global (ARDP-G), a leadership fast track within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, he has the opportunity to work in 3 different countries, for 3 different companies, all within the next 5 years. It’s an opportunity to take his career exactly where he wants it to go, supported by mentors and talent managers from the world’s largest car manufacturer.
Dion, who had 13 years’ experience in the automotive industry as marketing product manager before starting at the HEC Paris MBA, says that his desire to work on connected cars and autonomous cars caused him to study the car market for almost an entire year while pursuing his degree.
“From my research, I decided that the new players like Uber, Apple and Google are exciting, but with the investment it takes to build a car-manufacturing plant, the new players will never do it,” he says. “I believe the tech companies will never be car manufacturers; they’ll just be suppliers to the historical players who are around since decades. That’s why I decided the best career move was to go with the historical leader.”
So how does an MBA graduate get into such a prestigious leadership pipeline, when faced with competitors from other top business schools? Dion says once he made it to the interview process, he spent hours on the phone with other HEC Paris alumni participating in the program, strategizing tactics.
Rina Miyasaka, the program manager for the ARDP-G, offers the following recruitment insights:
What is the Alliance looking for in their hires and what does it take to be successful?
Because the program is tailor-made to align with each individual’s career goals, there is no set career path everyone follows. Roles are determined based on both an individual’s interest but also where they can have the biggest impact in the organization. Participants may not know which country or position they’ll be rotating to up until a couple of weeks before they move. The nature of the program, having to deal with a lot of ambiguity, takes a great deal of emotional maturity and flexibility. More so than the technical skills, being able to keep an open mind, adaptability and learning agility are some of the key success factors for the program.
Do applicants need previous experience in the automotive industry?
Automotive experience is not mandatory. We leverage a person’s past experiences so that they are able to hit the ground running and perform from their first rotation.
What is the main advantage for participants?
It’s a great way to accelerate your career in a diverse and dynamic company. It was conceived to give high-potential candidates not only the relevant experiences to reach their career goals, but exposure and support such as mentoring and visibility to top executives. Despite being the busiest people in the organization, the Alliance’s business leaders always make time to engage with the program participants, giving them guidance and direction.
It’s truly rewarding to watch the program participants grow with each assignment and each challenge.
What’s the future job outlook?
The automotive industry will face more changes in the next 5 years than it has in the last 20, and with this evolution will come new challenges and opportunities. For someone who wants to evolve and grow as a global leader in one of the most fast-paced, disruptive industries, this is the place.