The General Motors’ Professional Development Assignment (PDA) sends select Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick engineers on a month-long tour of dealerships in major markets across the country. Since launching last year, 90 engineers have taken part in the program and more are expected to follow this year.
John Calabrese, GM vice president of Global Vehicle Engineering, took a few minutes to answer our questions on the program. Read answers from him below and check out the following video to learn more.
FastLane: How did this program come about?
John Calabrese: Mark Reuss, Mary Barra and I wanted to expose some of our engineers to all the work our dealerships and field teams are doing regarding the Customer Experience. The PDA process is designed to allow the engineers to gain a better understanding of GM’s customers, dealership operations and our wholesale team.
FL: Why is it important to expose engineers to dealer sales and service experience?
JC: It’s extremely important to expose our engineers to dealer sales and service experience because our goal is always to create products that exceed the wants of our customers – and the best way for our engineering teams to better understand these desires is to spend time out in the field. Prior to this assignment, there were not as many options for engineers to learn from customers’ preferences outside of the southeast Michigan market.
FL: What have you been hearing from engineers who have participated?
JC: We are hearing great feedback and are already seeing the benefits of this program in our engineers that participated. They have been able to unearth areas in the vehicle that should have better accessibility to our service personnel in order to improve the customer experience and lessen time spent fixing vehicle issues. And beyond the service side, they have had a chance to speak directly with our consumers and learn from them what they value most from their vehicles.
FL: Based on what you’ve heard from engineers, how do you think this program will affect vehicle engineering going forward?
JC: I think moving forward, this will bolster the mentality of keeping our customer the number one priority in our minds when developing and engineering our vehicles. Having the direct personal contact with so many customers across the country and learning more about their wants and needs in a vehicle will be an experience that stays with these team members. It will also be something they can recall when working through the vehicle development process.
John Calabrese is vice president, global vehicle engineering for General Motors. He is responsible for the engineering of General Motors vehicles around the world.