Swamy Kotagiri:

Life Lessons AND

Core Values

One of the most pleasant surprises to me since becoming CEO is the many emails I receive every month from employees around the world — in our divisions, group offices and corporate locations. I welcome each one and really enjoy receiving feedback, general comments and questions – even the really hard ones. Reaching out to the CEO has been a common practice and part of the Magna culture, from Frank Stronach to Don Walker. Like them, I strive to be approachable, humble and grounded.

Some of my email correspondents know I’m a reader and they will recommend books. Others ask about new mobility, while some seek advice about the best way to live and chart a career.

My answers sometimes surprise them. I always say: “It’s about what you can give, not what you can take. When you see a need, your response should be: ‘How can I help?’ Then, do what you think is best. People will remember you, and the universe always pays you back.”

I also share how I find it helpful to have a written plan that encompasses all areas of life. I call mine the four-quadrant plan, which includes my professional life, personal life, family life and my role in society. I keep the paper close to me and consult it frequently. I also have a written life plan that goes out five years. These plans help me prioritize how I spend my time, something I learned from Don Walker.

When I consider how this planning approach can apply to my work life, I find that Magna’s core values are excellent guideposts.

Think Big – We are asked to think big in how we approach every challenge. Look beyond what is right in front of us to what is possible.

Take Responsibility – We are responsible for our actions, for how we run our business, and for the products we are putting in the market.

Never Settle – Go beyond what’s expected or required. The movement from good to great is a continuous one, because we know what is good enough today will not be what is needed tomorrow.

Be Collaborative – Working together brings us better results. The real power of Magna comes through when we leverage our total vehicle expertise and bring in diverse perspectives from employees across all our groups.

I invite you to embrace and live these values, both personally and professionally. And I look forward to hearing about how they’re working for you and helping you achieve your plans.