Michael Spode, 41
Plant manager, Dana Gyor Driveline; board member, Dana Hungary, Gyor, Hungary, Dana
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I have always had a passion for cars. When I was growing up some friends of the family had high-profile roles within the automotive industry. I could observe from a young age the industry's fast-paced, dynamic nature. I first entered the industry in a procurement role as it taught me many disciplines, provided wide exposure to my employer's business and all of our suppliers. This enabled me to see how the job is done well in a wide range of commodities and technologies.
Your greatest achievement?
My greatest personal achievement is my family. They are the reason I do what I do. Professionally, I would say it's my current role of leading a greenfield investment in Hungary from concept, construction, installation and launch to securing additional new business opportunities.
Born: Wolverhampton, England
Education: Bachelor's in design technology, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, England
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Throughout my career there have been many opportunities to learn from mistakes. One lesson I received early on was the importance of being invested in your people. I was slow to respond to individuals who were right for a job at the time of hiring but needed additional support and direction as the business moved forward. I learned the importance of focusing on the needs and their development to avoid limiting the progress of the entire team or delay the business from achieving its planned results.
What is your current challenge at work?
The automotive industry is going through a transition toward electrification. Significant changes are taking place across multiple customers all while we are still dealing with the impact of the pandemic. My current challenge is to get myself and my team ready to stay ahead of the curve and ensure we are adequately prepared to support our employees and our customers today and well into the future.
2018-present: Plant manager, Dana Gyor Driveline; board member, Dana Hungary, Gyor, Hungary
2016-2018: Project manager, Dana, Gyor, Hungary.
2014-2016: European procurement manager, Dana, Birmingham, England
2013-2014: Category manager, National Grid, Warwick, England
2008-2013: Procurement manager, Unipart Eberspaecher, Coventry, England
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I feel lucky to have been surrounded by many great leaders within the automotive industry who have provided great advice throughout my career. This makes it very difficult to pick a specific piece of guidance. However, there is a poem I feel has been both helpful and inspiring: "It Couldn't Be Done" by British poet Edgar Albert Guest.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
The automotive industry is a wonderful place to build a career. It's complex and diverse. It moves at an incredible pace to bring cutting-edge innovation to market. This speed of progress along with its variety, provides unlimited opportunities for personal and professional growth.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I'm always open to new challenges and experiences so long as they push my continued development both personally and professionally. Ultimately, I would like global responsibilities as well as an active presence in the market directly interacting with our customers.
What do you do to relax?
I love spending time with my family, traveling and experiencing places and cultures. While at home, I like to work in the garden, do home improvement projects, restore my home and also attempt to be a mechanic on one of my cars.
What is your dream location to live?
I have already spent time in the Far East as well as central and eastern Europe. That's why I would like to experience the northern and southern states in the U.S. As we know, the grass is rarely greener. So, I would like to see more locations before settling on an ultimate dream location.
What is your favorite driving song?
There are too many to list, but I really like "Che Vuole Questa Musica Stasera" by Peppino Gagliardi. It reminds me of driving switchback roads in Italy.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
Driving my Lotus Evora with my partner, Szilvia, from Hungary to Sardinia on our first holiday together. We spent the entire week exploring the amazing island.
What was your first car?
I had a 1988 Citroen BX.
A Land Rover Discovery Sd6.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
My current Land Rover Discovery Sd6 because it's like a Swiss army knife. It can go anywhere and do anything at any time. It is prepared for all situations.