AIA Hosts YES Conference

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On November 14, the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA) hosted its annual Young Executive Society (YES) Conference.

With the Bellagio Boutique Event Venue in Vaughan, Ont., playing host, the event focused on the changing automotive landscape and the role in which the aftermarket plays within in it. For up and coming executives, the day’s seminars provided some very in-depth and fascinating insights.

Ray Proulx , Director of Sales, Canada for KYB Americas discussed the fact that the automotive industry is changing so rapidly that parts manufactured for vehicles today, may have no place on them tomorrow, and that requires the industry to embrace and anticipate change.

“Be the changing agent that will bring change to your company,” Proulx declared. “To be successful, you have to take the initiative.”

Proulx noted that in more than 20 years attending conferences and reading business related books, one thing has stuck with him—the need for people to think “high” and believe in themselves, while reaching out to those around them. Proulx noted that it was this belief system and perspective that has helped countless people succeed in every aspect of their lives.

A process, not a goal

Max Valiquette, Vice President and Head of Planning at Publicis, discussed the impact of innovation on modern society and the fact that it should be viewed as a process, not a goal.

Valiquette referred to the fact that market demand is consumer led and is dictated by market demand, in other words, industry innovation is driven by personal innovation.

He cited examples where forward thinking companies are re-thinking the concept of office environments, creating spaces with large communal meeting areas in coffee shop type settings and encouraging employees to bring their own personal devices to the office.

In order to understand how innovation and disruption can originate in the most unlikely of places, Valiquette presented Eastman Kodak as a classic example, underlining the fact that the company’s death-knell didn’t come from rivals like Polaroid, but technology such as digital cameras and smartphones incorporating them. “The best camera is the one you have with you,” he said.

Valiquette shared some very interesting statistics with the audience, demonstrating that not only are people having fewer kids, they are also waiting longer to have them. Additionally, in referring to Millennials, he said that most view smartphones and Internet access as essential and not disposable income, meaning that successful businesses are the ones that fundamentally grasp this concept.

He said it was important for businesses to understand their audience and that to innovate effectively, they need to listen, be able to leverage different points of view and move forward at a speed that’s faster than what the organization is comfortable with. “To innovate in a meaningful way, you need to be moving with speed,” said Valiquette.

Valiquette said another critical element to success means focusing on your core values and expertise and then leveraging the tools that are most useful to you in order to promote your product/service and build meaningful relationships with your audience and customers. In reference to social media, he said that it might mean using just one social network, instead of multiple different channels to deliver the message.

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