Q&A: Mike Devereux, Holden Australia managing director

 1. What is the best thing about being MD of Holden?

Holden is one of those great iconic Australian brands. I travel across the country in my role meeting a variety of people, and more often than not people have a Holden story or memory to share. Holden is an ingrained part of Australian culture. As managing director, I get come to work every day to lead this brand and its people, and that is something I am very proud of.

2. Is GM impressed with Holden’s Australian operations?

We have regular visits from our GMIO leaders. GMIO President, Tim Lee visited recently and shared with me how impressed he was with the level of engagement our people have in our business. 

3. How much time do you spend in Elizabeth?

I am at our Elizabeth site regularly. We host monthly business meetings with the Holden leadership team at the plant. 

4. What is the one piece of technology/equipment that the Elizabeth plant couldn’t live without?

Without a doubt it is our people. We have a team of about 2,500 employees onsite at our manufacturing operation in Elizabeth. Every day and with every car that goes down the line, our people are the defining part of the process ensuring that we are building the best cars for Australia and the world.

5. I hear you’re going up to 480 units. Does that give you faith in the future of Holden in Australia?

For our plant our size and building the cars we do, I have been on the record stating that an annual output of about 100,000 units is ideal. As a business, we have been able to set our operations up in a way that we are able to adapt to what customers are telling us they want. As of the end of October (2011), we currently are building at Elizabeth two of the top five highest-selling cars in Australia. 

6. Recent media reports claim the carbon tax could force Holden to re-think its Australian operations. Is this true?

Holden is absolutely committed to manufacturing in Australia. 

7. Holden received a lot of support (government and trade unions) for the Cruze. Is the Government doing enough to support other manufacturing sectors?

In October, Prime Minister Gillard and Senator Carr announced a new Manufacturing Taskforce of which I have been invited along with other industry and union representatives to be a member of.

As outlined in the government’s media release, the high-level Taskforce will map out a shared vision for the future of Australia’s manufacturing sector and help strengthen local firms as they adapt to changes in our economy, including the rise of Asia. 

8. Do you think the mining and manufacturing industries can co-exist?

Absolutely.  The Australian economy needs a diverse range of industries and trade to ensure that as a nation Australia continues to develop its skills base and enhance the economy.

9. Which Australian manufacturers do you admire, and why?

I have great admiration for any Australian manufacturer that has been able to innovate and prosper in the face of the challenging conditions manufacturing has experienced in recent years.

10. Which kind of Holden do you drive?

While my family car is a HSV, I am lucky in that I am able to drive and evaluate vehicles from across our portfolio. Recently I have spent some time in our new SRi-V 1.4-litre iTi Cruze and thought it was a fantastic car. It has great fuel economy, well specified and it was really fun to drive.

My wife drives a Holden Captiva as she often has a lot of cargo and the kids in the car and its versatility and value is unmatched.

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