George Grahovac, senior manager, Honda North America supply chain, talks welding, optimism and why Covid-19 provides an opportunity to be more efficient than ever
George Grahovac leads the teams at Honda, which manages the import and distribution of parts from five global regions, the consolidation and export of parts to ten global production hubs, the management of Honda’s North American transport network and several supply chain supporting functions. He has been at Honda for 30 years, serving in various supply chain management capacities including assignments within the US, Mexico and Japan.
1. What did you want to be when you were younger?
Crazily enough, I wanted to be an underwater industrial welder. I was not a swimmer, scuba diver, nor was I very good with anything to do with hands-on or trade work. I have no idea where the thought came from, but I parlayed it into a career in the automotive industry. Go figure!
2. What is the greatest piece of advice anyone has given you in your career?
I have had a few key mentors over the years and I have received a lot of good advice from them and others. However, the advice that seems to stick with me the most is when one of my peers said to me: “You know what I observe about you that strikes me the most? It’s that you don’t care.” Well, as you can imagine, I was a bit taken aback with that comment, but he then went on to explain, saying: “You are successful because you don’t care. You are the first to put your head on the proverbial chopping block and you take good, calculated risks. You are not worried about climbing the corporate ladder as much as you are concerned about continuing to do the right things for your people and for the company. You don’t get caught up in all the gossip and nay-saying, you simply just keep plowing forward. Don’t ever lose that.”
3. Who or what inspires you in the world of automotive?
What inspires me the most in the automotive industry is finally working diligently to move it out of the technological dark ages, upgrading legacy systems and processes at break-neck speeds. I think the current political and social environment, lately the Covid-19 virus, will give us all the opportunity to re-think our approaches from a zero-base mindset as we work to be more efficient and effective than ever before, approaching the re-start of our industry.
4. What piece of advice would you give to someone entering the automotive logistics industry?
Do the right thing, always, as painful as it can be at times, work hard and stay objective. Do not get caught up in the preferential approach of looking at things in a ‘glass half empty’ way. There are opportunities and advancements with any crisis or less than optimal situation, learn from them and apply what you learned the next time around. Finally, look to apply as much of the ‘cool technology’ as possible, but try not to get caught up in using technology for the sake of it. Understand clearly what problem or challenge you are trying to solve.
5. If you could learn one thing that would help you in your job, what would it be?
Being an effective leader for our next generation and learning to construct and adjust our business models around them.
6. What was the last experience that changed the way you work?
The current one [worldwide lockdown due to the coronavirus]. I’ve never had to work from home before. It has been a challenging start, but I am certainly learning from it. I’ve always been a Genba [Japanese term meaning the place where work is done, adapted in manufacturing terms to mean the shop floor] guy. My Genba is now my home, at least for the time being.