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Millennials Thriving at Magna

DAVID WADE
NO MORE EXCITING PLACE TO BE

After graduating from the Ivey Business School at Western University in 2013, David Wade began his career in the world of private equity and merchant banking, including a stint in London, England. But as a Canadian who grew up in Vancouver, he had his eye on Magna.

“Magna has a certain allure because it is one of the most preeminent companies in Canada,” Wade said.

He joined the company in 2019 as the corporate development manager for Magna International and is based in Toronto.

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WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO JOIN MAGNA?

I wanted to become an expert in a specific industry and build industry experience. Automotive is at the nexus of technological transformation. There is no more exciting place to be than automotive, with electrification and autonomy resulting in new business models.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT AT MAGNA SO FAR?

I work on larger scale mergers and acquisitions and venture capital investments. I’ve had the opportunity to work on some super-exciting transactions alongside senior members of the team. At Magna, age and number of years of experience aren’t the only prerequisites to having an impact. There is an opportunity to step up and contribute, and a willingness to listen to anyone who is able to add value.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

It’s very cool and interesting to be able to leave a mark and contribute on these transformational strategic decisions. The ability to work very hard on deals and help shape the company is what drives me.

WHAT WILL YOUR FUTURE VEHICLE LOOK LIKE?

It’s got a bed in it.

COFFEE OR TEA? DOG OR CAT? WHICH ARE YOU AND WHY?

Coffee. I’m energetic, motivated and driven to come up with a good outcome. But I’d also like to think I’m thoughtful like a cup of tea. I’d be more of a cat guy. Cats have a certain level of independence but can be good companions.

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MARISA JAYNE
CREATIVE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS

As the captain of the varsity women’s soccer team at Purdue University Northwest, Marisa Jayne led by example on the field and in the classroom. Her teamwork experience proved invaluable when she joined Magna in 2018 as an intern in corporate engineering and R&D business development.

After completing a mechanical engineering degree in 2019, Jayne returned to the company as a technical business analyst, and today works as a research engineer at Magna’s Troy, Michigan, headquarters.

In her spare time, she coaches 10-year-old girls in a community soccer club.

“I tell them in practice ‘I want you to make mistakes,’ ” she said. “If you don’t, you won’t learn and grow as a player.”

WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO JOIN MAGNA?

I love math and science, and understanding how things work in terms of the entire system. I also love a challenge. I live outside of Detroit, the world’s biggest automotive hub. When I started researching career opportunities, I came across Magna and everything just clicked.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

The people and the concepts we work on. Engineers are the coolest, nicest people you’d want to meet. Our tech team is awesome, with everyone coming from different backgrounds. I feel comfortable around my team which means I can speak and act freely. We’re working on new mobility, which encompasses everything. We’re looking at using solar power for vehicles and micro-mobility applications. The creative possibilities are endless.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOUR MAGNA MENTOR HAS GIVEN YOU?

I do back-end research for new mobility and other projects. As a research engineer, I don’t have the biggest voice in the room – data has the biggest voice. My mentor Ron Zak could tell I was nervous before a big presentation. He said, ‘Marisa, you did the research, you know it’s right. Speak confidently.’ That really stuck with me.

WHAT WILL YOUR FUTURE VEHICLE LOOK LIKE?

Most definitely it will be completely solar- powered. It will be very sleek, no spinning wheels, autonomous, with an endless supply of snacks.

DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN A HASHTAG.

#creative

ZHAO LE HUANG
SUMMONING HAPPINESS

Zhao Le Huang, a laboratory engineer at the Magna plant in Shunde, China, joined the company three years ago, and quickly took on increasing responsibilities. Today, she is the co-manager of a team of seven people whose duties include certifying products for export.

Her name means “summoning happiness” in Mandarin. That journey started in a small village in China, where her parents were rice farmers and no one owned a car.

Huang said her search is over. She’s found happiness at Magna.

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WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO JOIN MAGNA?

I was working for another supplier at the time and I saw that Magna was recruiting, so sent my resume. I’ve enjoyed the excellent teamwork here. There are five women and two men on my team, and most of them are the same age as my parents, but the age difference doesn’t matter. If you treat everybody with ‘heart’ you will get the same in return.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOUR MAGNA MENTOR HAS GIVEN YOU?

My partner and co-manager is Hexin Li, who has worked for Magna for 29 years and is one year younger than my father. I consult him whenever I have questions or face challenges. He has a big heart. His best advice is to ‘let your work do the talking.’

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT AT MAGNA SO FAR?

Our lab is audited by automakers to make sure we are qualified to do testing and they don’t need to outsource anything to a third party. One of my proudest moments came when we were certified by Geely. Geely is a major customer and that was a big milestone. I was also proud when we were recognized as a national laboratory by the Chinese government. It is a big honor.

IF YOU HAD AN EXTRA HOUR IN THE DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I would paint. The lessons I’ve learned in painting can be applied to my job. The mindset is the same. Don’t panic. Don’t rush. Step-by-step.

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DOMINIKA BONNANOVA
GOOD BROTHERLY ADVICE

Dominika Bonnanova joined Magna in 2018 as an operator on the paint line at Magna’s plant in Liberec, Czech Republic. Just a year later, she earned a promotion as a production quality inspector.

Prior to joining Magna, Bonnanova worked in a bookshop in Jablonec, a nearby industrial town. Like other young women in her country, she is drawn to the auto industry, an engine in the Czech economy.

Her job includes inspecting bumpers, spoilers and doorsills, but she envisions a future where her career – and car – take flight.

WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO JOIN MAGNA?

My brother Juraj was a team leader at the Liberec plant and recommended Magna as a good place to work. The auto industry was new to my family. My father worked in food service at local ski resorts and my mother was a retail shop assistant.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

The work is challenging. It varies and it’s never boring. I’m also very shy. I learned to communicate better with people in the bookshop, and I’m getting even better at communicating in my new role.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT AT MAGNA SO FAR?

My promotion. I was happy to be given more responsibility.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOUR MAGNA MENTOR HAS GIVEN YOU?

I don’t have just one mentor or one piece of advice. I have lots of female colleagues who helped me and are still helping me. They are from the shop floor and the quality department. They give me advice on how to be quick and effective at my job. In this job, speed is very important to the customer.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB?

I would like to work in administration at the plant.

WHAT WILL YOUR FUTURE VEHICLE LOOK LIKE?

It will be a flying car.

BAISHENG WANG
A JOB OPPORTUNITY FELT LIKE 'FATE'

Walking along the street near the Magna plant in Zhangjiagang, China, Baisheng Wang happened upon a bulletin board with an intriguing job posting.

The manufacturing job combined his two passions: automotive and electronics. He snapped a picture of the posting with his cellphone and immediately applied. Today, he’s a Magna production operator making circuit boards for BMW vehicles.

“It was fate,” Wang recalled. “I’m quite happy.”

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WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO JOIN MAGNA?

I grew up in the small village of Wanjiagou in southwest China, where my grandparents were farmers who grew corn, wheat and rice. My parents worked in the city, but we had no ties to the auto industry and no transportation. If we wanted to go somewhere, we walked. I picked the auto industry as my specialty in vocational high school. I’ve always loved surfing the web to find information about cars. I like to tour auto shows. I have a USB stick with all of my favorite car photos.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

I’ve been learning so much and making a big effort to be the best. This is my second job out of high school. My first job was making electronic parts in the solar industry. It was also a manufacturing job but I’ve found that I like automotive much better.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOUR MAGNA MENTOR HAS GIVEN YOU?

My Magna mentor is Shengping Fang. He’s an experienced production operator who reminds me to be mindful, careful and treat the job seriously. A little mistake could cause big trouble. It could damage the vehicle and the company’s reputation.

WHAT WILL YOUR FUTURE VEHICLE LOOK LIKE?

I want the safest vehicle, so it will have exterior airbags. Safety is critical for me and my family.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AUTO MOVIE?

Furious 7: Back to the Starting Line, from The Fast and the Furious franchise.

GOLF, PING PONG, SOCCER OR ICE HOCKEY. WHICH OF THESE ARE BEST SUITED TO YOUR PERSONALITY?

Soccer. It’s about teamwork and getting the goal. I enjoy working with a team and winning.

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WEERAPONG PRAWANNA
BANKING ON MAGNA

After working as a part-time security guard in Bangkok, Weerapong Prawanna landed a job with Magna in 2013 as a production operator at the company’s Cosma plant in Thailand.

Today, he is a quality inspector on the Toyota line at the plant. His job enables him to help support his parents and his 20-year-old sister in his hometown of Na-Nok-Chum, a rural village. The name means “rice field with a lot of birds.”

Working for Magna has allowed Prawanna, whose nickname is “Bank,” to “feel lucky” and dream big.

WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO JOIN MAGNA?

I was the first person in my family to work in manufacturing, and I’m grateful it enables me to help my parents. They are proud of me and appreciate the money I can share with them. Growing up, we didn’t have a car and my parents got around on a scooter. I plan to buy them a car.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

I have friends here. The quality leader is a friend; I can talk to him about work and any personal concerns. It’s important to have good colleagues and leaders.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT AT MAGNA SO FAR?

There is no specific moment because I feel proud at all times. I feel good about having responsibility for checking quality. Besides, Magna has brought me luck. Every year, our plant hosts a New Year’s party for employees with a drawing. I’ve won the biggest prize twice. Both times, it was a gold necklace, both of which I gave to my mother.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB?

I like to control quality, so I would like to be the quality manager someday. I also love coffee, so I would like to own a coffee shop.

WHAT WILL YOUR FUTURE VEHICLE LOOK LIKE?

It will be completely autonomous, with a coffee maker.

IF YOU HAD AN EXTRA HOUR IN THE DAY WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Jog in the park.

WHAT THREE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOU?

Not three words, four words. They are 'easygoing, serious at work.'

MITCHELL BAUMAN
I FOUND A CHALLENGE

His Magna career began in 2010 as a temporary shop-floor employee building the rear sliding window for the Dodge Ram pickup truck at the Engineered Glass plant in Holland, Michigan. Today, Mitchell Bauman is the MES project lead, working on manufacturing execution systems for the factory of the future.

Lifelong learning is the secret to his success. He worked the midnight shift while studying for his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Davenport University, graduating with honors.

“Wanting to learn and to go further happened at Magna,” Bauman said.

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WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

I found a challenge at Magna and am never bored. I always feel inspired to innovate and do something better. I’ve also had the good fortune to work with managers who have shown me how I can grow within the company. I’ve gone from being an operator to building and managing my own projects that involve data transformation.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED AT MAGNA?

The people on the floor are the most important. They get the job done with the support of others. Also, I’ve learned the importance of communication and friendship. When I got trained on the third shift, the team was good at communication which helped them exceed the productivity rate. They knew each other and talked to each other. It made a difference.

WHAT’S THE SMARTEST THING YOU DID TO PREPARE FOR THIS NEW STAGE IN YOUR CAREER?

Using my lifelong learning within Magna. Understanding the business as a whole has been my education. Magna is entrepreneurial, and I can fit in anywhere today because I understand the concepts of launching a business.

WHAT WILL YOUR FUTURE VEHICLE LOOK LIKE?

The next step is autonomous. Convenience is key. People appreciate goods and services that make their life more convenient.

HOW DO YOU WIND DOWN?

Running and lifting weights have become my hobbies. I also enjoy trying new restaurants. I love music and literature. And I read articles on Industry 4.0 and the National Football League.

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RAMANDEEP KAUR
LEARNING EVERY DAY

An inspirational teacher prompted Ramandeep Kaur to seek a job at Magna, a decision that has meant career advancement and satisfaction.

Kaur joined Magna in 2017 as the quality assurance auditor at the MSM division in Ontario, Canada, and became part of a team working on new launches for General Motors and Ford products. She earned a promotion to quality lead at the plant in February.

The best part of her job: “I’m learning every day. How to work with people is the main lesson I’ve learned.”

WHAT WILL YOUR FUTURE VEHICLE LOOK LIKE?

It will look like a car I saw in a Bollywood movie. It drove itself and did everything, including parallel parking.

WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO JOIN MAGNA?

When I was working on my post-graduate diploma in quality engineering management at Lambton College in Ontario, I had a teacher who used to work for Magna. His name was Dhaval Vyas. He would tell us about the great experience and knowledge he gained working here. It was inspiring, and I wanted to have the same experience. I knew the minute I walked into MSM for my interview that this is the place I wanted to work.

WHAT IS THE SMARTEST THING YOU DID TO PREPARE FOR YOUR CAREER?

We didn’t have a car on the farm in India where I grew up. While my father didn't go to school, we all know in the Indian culture that education leads to opportunities. I felt that furthering my education in Canada would help me focus on the more practical aspects of what I would need to be successful. Much of what I learned has applied to my current job.

WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE YOUR MAGNA MENTOR HAS GIVEN YOU?

It doesn’t matter how stressful a situation may be, just be confident and trust yourself. You need to believe in yourself. This is a lesson that I’m sure will benefit me throughout my career and in my life.

IF YOU HAD AN EXTRA HOUR IN THE DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I would play badminton. Growing up, I was the best badminton player in my school. Backhand was my best move.

ANNA CAO
A GOOD PLACE TO GROW

A teenage decision to study engineering in the U.S. launched Anna Cao on a successful career. She grew up in China, majored in mechanical engineering at Purdue University, and joined Magna shortly after graduation in 2017.

As a purchasing engineer, she works in the Cosma group office in Shanghai, helping to support 10 Magna divisions.

Cao said engineering is “learning how to solve problems” and can even “help with life decisions.”

Anna Cao sitting at her desk at her office

WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO JOIN MAGNA?

Magna is a Fortune Global 500 company, so I knew it would be a good place to work and grow. My dad used to work for Magna as a mechanical engineer when I was in high school, and he was quite happy when I told him I was going to work here.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

As a purchasing engineer, I get to work with so many people, often talking to suppliers about issues, purchasing orders and pricing. My job also connects me to different Magna departments, such as human resources, IT and engineering. It really helps me be a better communicator and to express my thoughts, something engineers like me aren’t always expected to do.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOUR MAGNA MENTOR HAS GIVEN YOU?

My mentor is Maggie Qian, the senior purchasing manager in my department, and it seems like we’re always juggling 20-30 tasks. She’s really helped me better prioritize my work and improve my efficiency. And along the way, she’s become like a sister to me.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB?

I feel like I’ve found my dream job right here at Magna.

WHAT THREE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOU?

Kind, brave and decisive.

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AARON OREJON
FINDING LOVE AND OPPORTUNITY

When Aaron Orejon joined the Mechatronics Saltillo division as a machine operator nine years ago, he could not have envisioned the impact Magna would have on his personal and professional life.

He met his future wife Gloria Elizabeth, another machine operator, at a 2012 Mexican Independence Day celebration organized by the division. They got to know each other by comparing notes on production reports. The 500 guests at their 2015 wedding included most of the shop- floor workers at the plant.

With the support of his Magna managers, Orejon finished his bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from the Universidad Del Valle de Santiago this September.

WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO JOIN MAGNA?

My father, Magdaleno, was a machine operator at the division and told me about the job. He worked for Magna for 19 years and is now retired. When I started, I was just looking for a way to make money to pay my college tuition. I was promoted to production leader two years later. I was impressed by the professional development and leadership skills training Magna offers to employees. I asked for support to continue my studies and the company gave me the opportunity to stay on one shift, instead of moving from shift to shift, so I could study and get good grades.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOUR MAGNA MENTOR HAS GIVEN YOU?

My mentor was Flor Garcia, a production leader who is now retired. She supported and encouraged me to develop my skills when I was a machine operator. She always said, 'Take care of the people. The business really depends on them.'

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT AT MAGNA SO FAR?

Supporting the professional growth of the production operators on my team. I tell them they need to take advantage of the opportunities that Magna offers. Many of them have been promoted to better jobs in materials, maintenance and production. The encouragement I got from the company motivated me to help others.

WHAT WILL YOUR FUTURE VEHICLE LOOK LIKE?

It will be a self-driving vehicle with massaging seats. After you leave work, you need a place to relax.

IF YOU HAD AN EXTRA HOUR IN THE DAY WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I would spend more time with my wife and my two children, Dylan, 8, and Ian, 2. We’d probably play soccer.

HOW WOULD YOUR FRIENDS DESCRIBE YOU?

At first, kind of shy, but when people get to know me they realize I’m funny. I’m always looking for ways to make people smile.

GOLF, PING PONG, SOCCER OR ICE HOCKEY. WHICH IS BEST SUITED TO YOUR PERSONALITY?

Soccer. I’ve been a soccer player since I’ve been four. Soccer taught me leadership is the key to being a winner.

JOHN JOHNSON
EVERY DAY IS A PROUD DAY

Before being hired in 2021 as a quality technician at Magna Seating Columbus in Ohio, John Johnson built landing system antennas at the end of runways that guide planes to safe stops. He built the aviation aids in challenging terrain all over the world, from the Tibetan Alps to South America.

When the COVID-19 pandemic slowed air travel, Johnson got laid off, but found a new home at Magna.

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WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO JOIN MAGNA?

Magna is a great organization. My job could lead me anywhere in the world I chose to go. I can progress within Magna and get an even better career. The company offers educational opportunities and I have been studying engineering at Ohio University. Ultimately, I would like to achieve a master’s degree.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT AT MAGNA SO FAR?

I work on a team of eight people. We test and validate weld qualities on seat frames for customers like General Motors and Stellantis. We run quality checks on an hourly basis. When we find an issue, we get a toolmaker or a weld technician to correct the mistake on the machine.

The team checks around 4,000 welds a day. It would be incredibly difficult to get a problem through the system because there are so many double checks and triple checks. As I work, I think of my six-year-old daughter Kali. I don’t want to put her in a seat I’m not going to trust.

Since we’re all equals, we finish things as a team. We support each other. Every day is a proud day. You successfully achieve something every day as a team.

WHAT WILL YOUR FUTURE VEHICLE LOOK LIKE?

A magnetic vehicle would be interesting, one that uses electromagnetic propulsion technology. It would reduce pollution, allow for renewable resources, and reduce traffic accidents.

WHERE IS YOUR HAPPY PLACE?

At home, with my fiancé Haley, my daughter Kali and my 40 fish tanks. Yes, that’s 40 tanks. We also have reptiles, two hedgehogs, two dogs and turtles.

COFFEE OR TEA? DOG OR CAT? WHICH ARE YOU AND WHY?

Tea. I try to be calm and I already have enough energy. I’m friendly like a dog, but I’m probably more like a coyote. I’m everywhere and I don’t stay on one track.

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