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Laurier CEO-in-Residence Lindsay Duffield shares lessons of life and leadership
Wilfrid Laurier University alumnus Lindsay Duffield (BBA ’79), president of Jaguar Land Rover Canada, delivered a keynote address May 15 as the School of Business and Economics’ fifth CEO-in-Residence. He shared lessons in leadership, as well as inside perspective on rebuilding the iconic automotive brands after the financial crisis of 2008.
The global recovery of Jaguar Land Rover was one of many topics Duffield touched on during his talk, titled “The Rebirth of Two Automotive Icons.” He also offered leadership and life lessons, outlining the importance of taking risks and being flexible.
“It’s important to be flexible and not get flustered,” he said. “What you are hired for is likely not what you are going to do. You have to realize that it’s not about ‘What am I going to do today?’, it’s ‘Where do I start?’.”
Duffield spent 14 years with IBM Canada in various sales, marketing and financial services positions before entering the automotive industry as director of marketing and communications at Mercedes-Benz Credit Corporation. In 1996 he moved on to BMW Group Financial Services as vice-president of sales and marketing, and then moved to Columbus, Ohio, in 2000 to take the role of vice-president of operations. In 2004 he was appointed the first Canadian-born president and CEO of BMW Group Canada. In 2010 he became president of Jaguar Land Rover Canada.
Facing quality issues, an aging demographic and slumping sales, Duffield said making the brand “cool” again through focused marketing and introducing new product was key. Today, Jaguar Land Rover is the fastest growing luxury automotive brand in Canada, with record sales in 2013.
“It’s like building a plane while flying it, and trying to avoid turbulence,” said Duffield, who acknowledged that although the automaker has come a long way in a short amount of time, “It is a marathon and there is a long way to go.”
Duffield wrapped up his talk with 10 lessons of life for students, which included: never stop learning, take chances while you can, never burn bridges and stay true to your personal brand. He also advised against career planning.
“I wasn’t looking to be in the car business, but it kept calling to me. Do what you love and feel passionate about, even if it doesn’t pay very well. Find those skills to develop and you will be of value to any company.”
The Laurier CEO-in-Residence is an appointed honour by the dean of Laurier’s School of Business and Economics, and has been developed to deliver a perspective to students beyond their studies and research in the classroom.
• Stacey Mowbray (BBA ’84), past president and CEO, The Second Cup, Ltd.
• Tim Penner (BBA ’78), former president, Procter and Gamble Canada
• Michael Ward (BBA ’86), president, IKEA USA
• Lynn Oldfield (BBA ’84), president and CEO, AIG Company of Canada