NAIAS shows the talent quest is back in action for the auto industry image

While auto companies flocked to cover the Las Vegas CES at the beginning of the year, some auto technology executives did the same during the ongoing edition of the Detroit motor show.

Showing how deeply connected the world of technology and automotive are today, top managers such as Ford’s and Daimler’s CEOs Mark Fields and Dieter Zetsche, respectively, had key notes during the International Consumer Show in Las Vegas. Concurrently, Google’s driverless car project chief and well-known billionaire entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk appeared during the closely run Automotive World Congress. They also showed up there because it seems the balance of talented engineers leans back towards the “traditional” auto industry sector – after for years human resource managers in the field complained that upcoming engineers preferred the enticing Silicon Valley to Motown. It seems that today technology companies also need the talent, expertise and technology of Detroit – the traditional center of automotive technology in the United States.

For example, General Motors has discovered the value of local, experienced technical people: “we were chasing (low-cost) labor markets with engineers. That’s a big mistake,” said Mark Reuss, GM global product development chief. US automakers now reshape their recruiting and retention strategies, including going above and beyond the usual trend of having mid-level engineers returning to alma maters to seek students that want a career in developing the next car. Much like a celebrity football coach searching his next All-American running back, they use top executives to canvas a broader range of schools.