Jaclyn McQuaid of General Motors Europe talks about how established companies can operate like a start-up.

on November 20, 2023

In the November edition of the Women Automotive Network Leadership Interview Series Andy Fellows, Managing Director of Aquilae speaks with Jaclyn McQuaid, President and Managing Director of General Motors.

Did you miss this LinkedIn Live interview? If so you can catch the full interview here as well as read our summary below. 

Andy started by exploring Jaclyn's early exposure to engineering and her decision to pursue a career in the automotive industry, discussing her experiences as a woman in a male-dominated field and her father's influence on her career choices. 

The conversation then shifted to Jaclyn's entry into General Motors and her focused desire to work for the company. They briefly discussed her internships with GM during college and her seamless transition into a full-time role after graduation. Andy also speaks with Jaclyn's on her diverse roles within General Motors, which emphasizes the breadth of experiences she gained without leaving the company. 

'we were truly wanting to operate as a start-up'

Exploring the dynamics of running a start-up within a mature organisation, Jaclyn emphasized the importance of a "test and learn" mindset and discussed the deliberate choices made in hiring a diverse team with backgrounds in start-ups, technology, and automotive expertise to foster innovation and execution. 

Jaclyn acknowledged the advantages and challenges of operating like a start-up within a large corporation, noting the delicate balance between leveraging established processes and the freedom to innovate. She highlighted the benefits of financial backing, industry expertise, and the support of senior leadership. 

For Jaclyn, embracing a continuous learning mindset was key, understanding that not everything would go as planned, and there would be challenges along the way. Learning from failures and reacting quickly was crucial for success. 

Overall we learn the journey involved a delicate balance between leveraging the strengths of an established company and adopting the agility and innovation mindset of a start-up. It required bold decision-making, a collaborative spirit, and a relentless focus on the customer and the future of mobility in Europe. 

In conclusion, this latest leadership interview provided a valuable glimpse into the complexities of launching a start-up within a mature organisation, offering lessons on leadership, innovation, and adapting to industry transformations. Throughout the interview, Jaclyn shared insights on leadership, drawing inspiration from her parents and mentors who played significant roles in her career. She emphasized the importance of caring for team members, fostering open communication, and striving for excellence rather than perfection. 

You can also view the whole interview on the Women Automotive Network YouTube Channel here

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