The Future of Detroit the Mobility City With Glenn Stevens

April 4, 2019

Daily Detroit

Detroit is major center of the development of the automobile. But we’re now transitioning to developing more than just the traditional vehicle — to creating technology and solutions that helps people get around. That’s mobility.

Today’s episode talks about that mobility industry in Metro Detroit. Not just Detroit, the Motor City… but Detroit, the Mobility City.

There are numerous startups and the big players – including Ford and GM – that are serious about it and there’s a lot of money being spent.

After all, that new Ford campus that’s happening in Corktown? That’s about developing this kind of technology right here in Detroit.

That conversation, led by Sven Gustafson – is with Glenn Stevens.  He’s the Executive Director of MICHauto. That’s an initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

And even though he’s the head of a group called MICHauto, you might be surprised that his answers to the challenges and opportunities Metro Detroit has is not just to add more cars to the road.

View the full article here

Listen to the conversation:

Walsh Offers Career Workshop for Displaced GM Employees

TROY, Mich., March 18, 2019 — Walsh will offer a resume and job search workshop for displaced GM employees on Thursday, March 28, 2019, from 5-6:30 p.m. in Room 112 of their main location at 3838 Livernois in Troy, MI.

Facilitated by Walsh Career Services, the workshop will include a presentation on resume writing and job search techniques, Q&A session and brief one-on-one resume reviews following the presentation. Advanced registration is required.

“As Michigan’s third largest graduate business school, Walsh is committed to retaining talent in Michigan’s workforce,” said Brenda Paine, Ph.D., CPRW, Director of Career Services at Walsh. “Our team of career advisors looks forward to providing this service at a time when so many talented Michigan workers need it.”

To register for Walsh’s Career Workshop for Displaced GM Employees, please visit


Walsh is an all-business, private, independent, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering undergraduate and graduate business and technology degrees, as well as certificate programs. Founded in 1922, Walsh is one of the region’s largest business schools and Michigan’s third largest graduate business school, offering classes in several locations as well as online. Our nationally ranked programs integrate theory and application to prepare graduates for successful careers. Walsh degree programs include accounting, finance, information technology, management, marketing, taxation and other fields. For more information, please visit

Walsh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (

GM’s job cuts mean new kind of worker needed

November 6, 2018

Detroit Free Press

By: Jamie L. LaReau

General Motors is a technology company that makes cars and the skills its employees had yesterday are continuously becoming outdated.

Experts say that is the underlying message of GM CEO Mary Barra’s move on Oct. 31 to offer voluntary buyouts to GM’s North American salaried workers with 12 or more years of experience with the company.

On the surface, it’s typical cost-cutting ahead of a potential dip in new-car sales and rising raw material costs. But look closer.

“GM is signaling a change in vehicle technology. If they go into electric more rapidly, then they do not need the same engineers they have now,” said Maryann Keller, principal of Maryann Keller & Associates in the New York area. “The advent of electric vehicles has profound implications for employment in the auto industry’s competition and the skill sets needed to compete.”

Consider that Barra hails from a human resources background, so targeting employees with long seniority and high pay grades is strategic when a company is moving toward the development of more electric cars, fuel cells and autonomous vehicles, experts say. It means redeploying the workforce and freeing up significant capital, said Marick Masters, professor of business at Wayne State University.

“Technology has changed so fast and is changing so fast that if you’ve been out of school 10 or 20 years, you’re not at the leading edge anymore,” said Masters. “This will give GM an opportunity to create a greenfield of sorts, to create a new company within a company.”

The New Worker

Besides wanting to be futuristic, GM’s cost cutting is also a necessity.

Its current cost structure and product mix make it more vulnerable to a sales downturn than Ford and Fiat Chrysler, said market economist Jon Gabrielsen, an adviser to the auto industry. He said GM can afford to lose only a quarter of its current car sales in North America before going in the red.

GM won’t say which jobs or which areas of the business it looks to trim beyond saying the offers are voluntary — for now — and will go to employees with 12-plus years experience.

But GM has been adding a younger workforce with technology-heavy skills in recent years. In fact, only about 17,700 of GM’s 50,000 salaried workers in North America have the 12-plus years seniority to qualify for a buyout offer. Experts say that indicates the bulk of GM’s workers are new to the company, possibly with a focus beyond traditional vehicle design and engineering.

A GM spokesman confirmed that “about 40 percent” of its U.S. workforce has been with the company five years or less.

The company’s changing focus opens up opportunities to millennials, those people ages 22 to 37 who might change their perception of GM from that of a stodgy carmaker bankrupt a few years ago to a technology company that offers some advantages over that of a start-up, Wayne State’s Masters said.

But for older workers already in the auto industry, it means they must up their game and continuous training is a requisite.

“I don’t know if they’re extinct or need a new degree, but they need to be engaged in continued learning and advancement,” said Masters. “They need to be agile. Organizations do not guarantee lifetime employment anymore. This is a statement that the world is changing.”

A New Company

The “new” GM will want workers who are highly creative and capable of working autonomously as well as collaboratively, Masters said. The future employee will take initiative and have a strong technology background, good communication skills and project-management capability. GM might do more contract hiring to keep fixed costs low and GM’s agility high, he said.

“China is taking the lead in electric vehicles. Ford has an aggressive plan to redeploy its investments along those lines, too,” Masters said. “So GM has to have the flexibility to free up staff and have the capital available to invest in this technology.”

GM has been on an aggressive hiring spree in part because it wants to be first to deploy a fleet of self-driving electric cars in a city next year. In fact, the same day GM said it would trim its workforce, a GM spokesman told the Free Press GM will continue to hire in certain areas it is expanding, namely engineering and technology for its work on self-driving and electric cars.

Two years ago, GM bought its self-driving vehicle arm, GM Cruise. GM Cruise employed 40 people at that time. Today it employs about 800, said GM President Dan Ammann.

GM’s hiring reflects a statewide trend. The skills needed for future automotive jobs in Michigan are shifting as the auto industry here transitions to a future of mobility beyond tradition personal car ownership, said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives for Detroit Regional Chamber.

“You have the convergence of the auto and the tech industry going on,” said Stevens. “The different modes of transportation and the development of electrification are increasing, so we have to make sure we’re leading for the next generation of mobility. The companies here have to make sure they do the same thing.”

Deeper Cuts

GM said it does not have a target for how many salaried workers it wants to take the offers. But if it doesn’t remove enough costs from that and other efforts, such as halting renovation work at two Michigan facilities, it will consider involuntary job cuts after Jan. 1.

For that reason, Keller said she expects the voluntary buyouts will get a higher than usual take rate.

“Knowing that there will be cuts no matter, and the labor market is strong, should increase the take rate,” said Keller. “I don’t recall what it was in the past, but it was low when jobs were scarce.”

Gabrielsen believes only 10 to 20 percent will take the offers and GM will be forced to cut jobs to support earnings amid plateauing new-car sales and rising commodities costs. In total, he estimated about 7,000 salaried GM employees in metro Detroit will be gone through the voluntary or involuntary termination.

“Typically, in downturns, they start off hoping they won’t have to cut too bad,” said Gabrielsen. “But as things cycle down in the industry, you have to do another tranche and another tranche and another.”

GM’s Troubles

Recently at CityLab 2018 in Detroit, Mary Barra was asked if GM is a technology company, not just a car company. Her unwavering reply was: “That is my goal.”

So as Barra has worked to pour resources into developing AV/EV technology including forming investment partnerships with Japan’s SoftBank and Honda earlier this year, it has also been cutting costs for several years in other areas. GM said it would make $6.5 billion in reductions for 2018, but the voluntary job cuts will not benefit GM until 2019.

Since emerging from bankruptcy in 2010, GM has added about 28,000 employees in North America, about half of whom are hourly, said Gabrielsen. But GM has not gained North American market share.

Gabrielsen, who pulls his data from GM’s SEC filings, said in 2009 the automaker had a 20 percent market share in North America selling 2.5 million vehicles. Each year since, GM’s market share has slid. Last year, GM sold 3.6 million vehicles, but its market share was 16.6 percent, he said.

“They can’t support as much fixed cost with the smaller market share,” Gabrielsen said. “This is an economy-of-scale business. When you get above a certain sales volume you can print money. When it drops, you bleed money.”

He said GM is precariously vulnerable to a sales downturn.

“GM can afford to lose 25 percent of its unit sales in North America before it goes into the red. That’s if they slash heads on the way down,” Gabrielsen said. “Chrysler and Ford can afford to lose 50 percent of their sales in North America before they’re in the red.”

But GM is not alone in wanting a leaner company. Ford also is working to reduce its salaried workforce. Ford has not provided specifics on how many jobs will be cut or over what time frame in its $11-billion “fitness” plan.

Wall Street Woes

While economists agree that a storm of economic headwinds is swirling around the auto industry, threatening profitability, GM faces one more challenge: Wall Street.

Since taking the helm in January 2014, Barra has yet to satisfy investors. Right before reporting third-quarter results on Oct. 31, GM shares traded about 6 percent below the $33 per share price at which they launched in 2010 in a post-bankruptcy initial public offering, according to Reuters. GM’s stock price hit an all-time high of $46.48 on Oct. 24, 2017, but had declined to $36.25 as of Nov. 5.

Last month, Reuters reported it contacted several shareholders who said GM could face a third major action by activist shareholders in less than four years if the share price does not improve.

GM’s voluntary buyout program and halts to renovations will appease Wall Street for some time, analysts said.

“I wouldn’t want to be any of the auto company CEOs right now,” said Gabrielsen. “None of them want to slash anybody, so if they’re doing it at all it’s because of Wall Street pressure.”

View the original article


Walsh College’s Conversation with Leaders Program Announces Speaker Christina Vanderelzen, GM Director of Global Talent

Christina Vanderelzen, the director of global talent at General Motors, kicks off Walsh College’s Conversation with Leaders: Career Growth and Development program on Thursday, Oct. 12, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Troy campus.

This complimentary session is open to the public and offers a unique opportunity to hear directly from Vanderelzen about her career journey — from material flow and labor to moving her family to Italy, to human resources director for global design, and now managing GM’s global hiring plan — and the value of lateral and vertical movement within a company.

“We are honored to host Christina Vanderelzen at Walsh,” said Jenny Tatsak, Ph.D., chair of the Business Communications Department and director of the Success Center. “Her career path, as well as her most recent experiences in global talent acquisition, will provide invaluable insight and a real-world perspective on the many critical issues facing businesses and professionals.”

The event is hosted by the College’s Success Center, which provides designated space and resources for executive coaching and prepares Walsh students with communication and technical skills necessary for leadership roles and professional growth.

“This presentation is perfect for Walsh College students, alumni, and all business professionals who want to network and learn how a career can take various turns along the way,” Dr. Tatsak added. “Conversation with Leaders is one of many examples of our focus to provide students with contemporary, real-life business knowledge.”

To register, visit Space is limited so register early.

Long-awaited Defend Trade Secrets Act passes; Brinks Gilson & Lione attorney looks at impact on Michigan business

James Cleland, a shareholder in the Ann Arbor office of Brinks Gilson & Lione, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S., says Michigan businesses just gained additional protection of their trade secrets following approval of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) by the U. S. House of Representatives late yesterday. The U.S. Senate passed the DTSA on April 4, 2016 by a unanimous vote of 87-0. President Obama is now expected to sign the bill into law.

“This is a win for Michigan businesses and businesses throughout the country seeking strong protection for their trade secrets,” Cleland said. “Although individual state laws governing trade secret protection and misappropriation existed prior to the passage of DTSA, the lack of a federal statute made enforcement of trade secrets non-uniform, slow and highly dependent on the particular state in which theft of trade secrets occurred. A federal statute is particularly welcome in an age where the theft of electronic information using sophisticated technology occurs quickly and across not only state borders, but our country’s borders.”

Cleland noted Michigan corporate behemoths like Ford and GM immediately come to mind as beneficiaries of the DTSA.

“Several automakers were the unfortunate victims in recent years of high profile, high stakes cases of trade secret theft when foreign nationals they employed fled the U.S. and returned to their native countries with valuable trade secrets in hand,” Cleland said. “Providing federal courts with jurisdiction over trade secret cases, enhancing the civil seizure procedures and beefing up damages unquestionably will help wronged companies pursue these individuals across state and international borders.”

Cleland notes the Defend Trade Secrets Act is the most sweeping trade secret reform in a generation. Key provisions of the DTSA are:

• Providing a uniform law on the protection of trade secrets and giving federal courts jurisdiction over disputes involving trade secrets relating to products or services used in interstate or foreign commerce.

• Enhanced ex parte civil seizure procedures to help U.S. companies immediately seize property necessary to prevent trade secret theft, particularly useful when an employee plans to leave the country with stolen trade secrets.

• Recognizing that the most important remedy in many cases is to stop the trade secret theft in its tracks, and thus providing options for immediate court intervention and involvement of law enforcement officers.

• In addition to civil seizure and injunctive relief, setting forth multiple options for damages for trade secret theft to ensure that wronged companies are made whole.

• Establishing enhanced damages and attorney’s fees for willful and malicious misappropriation of trade secrets.

• Requiring periodic public reports on the scope and breadth of the theft of U.S. trade secrets outside the U.S.

• Creating whistleblower protections for individuals who disclose trade secrets to the government to report a violation of the law or in the context of a retaliation lawsuit.

“With the evolving knowledge economy in Michigan and beyond, trade secrets play an increasingly important role in defining the value of any company, whether it is a chemical formula, manufacturing process or a critical customer list,” Cleland said. “Assuming companies affirm the value of their trade secrets by taking the proper steps to safeguard them in the first place, the DTSA will provide companies with added protection and expand civil enforcement options.”

The DTSA language can be viewed here.

Brinks Gilson & Lione
The attorneys, scientific advisors and patent agents at Brinks Gilson & Lione focus their practice in the field of intellectual property. Brinks is one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S. Clients around the world use Brinks to help them protect and enforce their intellectual property rights. Brinks lawyers provide counseling in all aspects of patent, trademark, unfair competition, trade secret and copyright law.

More information is at