Antonio Herrera
President
Queretaro Automotive Cluster
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View from the Top

Attracting Talent in an Increasingly Crowded Market

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 13:39

Q: What have been the cluster’s major achievements in attracting new automotive suppliers to the state?

A: While the Queretaro cluster is still really young, the association is generating momentum with automotive suppliers by collaborating with companies, academic institutions, and the government, to create a sense of unity between the suppliers. We also want to focus on service providers, since we normally do not detect them despite the impact they have on our organizations. The cluster’s creation was a big step forward for the automotive sector in Queretaro. Right now, we have 34 members among the 260 automotive companies in the state.

Q: What level of collaboration has the cluster had with the Queretaro state government?

A: The state is doing a very good job focusing on how it can bring more and better jobs, and the automotive sector has been able to deliver that. Many of our Tier 2 suppliers are SMEs that need better conditions to increase their competitiveness and take advantage of great opportunities in the automotive sector. Clusters are excellent partners for governments in terms of implementing economic development policies and we have developed programs with state funding to support quality certifications, training, and business opportunities for SMEs. We have confidence in this mechanism because the cluster proposes programs and activities aligned with the industry’s requirements.

Q: What strategies have you implemented regarding Queretaro’s human talent?

A: The first challenge from a human resources standpoint is to determine what we need from our university partners in terms of knowledge and focus. Another target is to promote engineering professions. We are developing a strategy with ITESM to get young generations interested in engineering fields, such as mechanical, metallurgical, and material engineering. There has been a continuous decrease in interest in these professions and now there is a lack of talent in the industry. Additionally, most universities offer a large career portfolio, without knowing how to promote their engineering division or how to attract the proper students for each career. We want to attract people from an earlier stage and show kids that working in the automotive industry can be fun, as is everything they could be doing with our companies. After all, we need to have more engineers in Queretaro, otherwise we are going to face major problems in the future.

Q: What strategies do you want to implement, looking at what other clusters at doing?

A: I am grateful to the clusters of Nuevo Leon and Guanajuato, as they have been really open with us. Both clusters have shared their experience and have given us tips on how to grow faster. Also, they have enlightened us about the challenges we might face in the initial stages. The clusters are driven by businessmen and we are all working toward the same goal. The collaboration is gaining great momentum, as everyone is realizing the benefits it generates. We already have five applications for new members and we have not even started the cluster’s promotion. This is exactly what the other clusters told us would happen. Previously we were talking about competition, but this is more about collaboration. Guanajuato has all the OEMs but it does not have all the suppliers, so it makes sense to help each other.

Q: How will your strategies to attract new suppliers boost Queretaro as an automotive production base?

A: We have to keep up with this regional view. We have many OEMs around us, but most companies in Queretaro still send their production to the US. There are companies that export 70-80% of their production, so we need to be open to what is happening in the region, obviously without neglecting the opportunities outside of Mexico. The world is getting smaller, and even medium-sized companies are exporting 50% of their production.

We are all working in the same industry and we are all facing the same problems, so we must work as a region to find the best solutions and share them with our fellow companies. Even though we only have 15% of the automotive companies in the state, everyone is really excited about getting things started and supporting each other. Nobody can do this alone, and that is why we need to strive for a community that focuses on social responsibility for the state.