Helping drive GM’s success

Michael Weidman.

A marketing manager at General Motors, Michael Weidman, MBA ’85, has led the launch of many of the auto giant’s revitalized offerings.

In fact, his work on the redesigned Chevy Malibu in 2007 received Advertising Age’s Marketing 50 Award as one of the year’s top 50 marketing campaigns. Sales of the Malibu rose more than 36% in one year. Weidman’s contribution also was recognized with a GM Chairman’s Honor.

Weidman began his automotive career with Denso, a Japanese automotive supplier. “I managed the GM account from a logistical perspective,” he says. “Working there for three years taught me the value of building relationships, while at the same time beginning to teach me the intricacies of the automotive industry and the global aspect of the business.”

After Denso, Weidman joined GM subsidiary Saturn for a short-term forecasting position, a little more than a year before Saturn began selling vehicles.

“That was a fascinating time to be at Saturn,” he says. “We were truly working from a clean slate, benchmarking the best retail and wholesale practices throughout the industry.”

With several years of forecasting background under his belt, Weidman moved to Chevrolet to manage the truck forecasting department, and then transitioned to brand and marketing management, with great results.

In addition to his success with the Malibu, Weidman led the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban to their highest volumes ever, helped the Colorado pick-up truck become the sales leader in its segment, and reestablished Chevy’s presence in the compact car market by managing the Cruze to second place in its segment for 2011.

His next challenge is the marketing launch for the Spark, Chevy’s first-ever entry into the mini-car segment.

Weidman believes his School of Management education has had a great influence on his success. “The combination of quantitative and qualitative courses provided me an outstanding foundation to enter the business world,” he says. “Having the ability to understand the numbers side of the business, while being able to communicate effectively, has been an immense asset in my career.”

He recently returned to campus to serve as a judge for a marketing competition. First-year MBAs in Professor Arun Jain’s class spent the year studying and preparing marketing plans for the launch of GM’s new fuel cell car.

“What an enjoyable experience that was,” Weidman says. “I had not been back to campus since graduation, so the memories came flooding back.

“I considered it an honor for my mentoring professor to ask me to serve as a judge for the graduate class competition,” he says. “I was truly impressed with the vast marketing knowledge the students possessed. Now they just need to learn how to apply that knowledge while dealing with the realities of the real business world.”

Weidman understands the challenges marketing graduates will face if they enter the automotive industry.

“The industry experiences continuous change as every manufacturer is always working to offer the best vehicle within its segment,” he says. “At the same time, media consumption habits have changed drastically with a growing number of millennials having a major impact on how we do business. The combination of these factors is always driving us to think and act differently if we want to succeed in the marketplace.”

Written by Cathy Wilde