From volunteering in prison ministry to leading a Magna team of100 to develop and launch new exterior lighting technologies,Terrence Wilson is a beacon of hope and encouragement.
“I am an engineer by trade and a mentor by the sheer nature of mycharacter,” said Wilson, Magna’s director of engineering, for lighting– Americas. “I like to illuminate a better path.”
While Wilson’s automotive credentials are impressive, his work as anauthor, speaker and mentor are becoming more widely knownwithin the company. He is a member of EDGE, Magna’s race andethnicity employee resource community, and heads its recruitmentand retention committee.
“We are starting to formulate how to attract and recruit people ofdifferent ethnicities,” he said. “It’s all about making sure thecompany’s culture is such that people have an opportunity to growand succeed.”
Part of that is building awareness, something that Wilson, who hasa professorial yet warm demeanor, clearly enjoys. During a recentEDGE virtual meeting, he tutored participants on the history of U.S.President Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, andthe significance of Juneteenth, which was recently recognized as anational holiday in the U.S.
In his prison ministry in the Detroit area,Wilson focuses on men without fathers.
“I tell them wherever you are in life, you needto have a goal,” he said. “Every decision youmake should be working toward that goal. Itell them the decisions you make today don’thave to affect the rest of your life. Thebiggest struggle is getting people to believe‘you can be better.’ That’s the message.”
Tapping into potential is part of Wilson’sstrategy in exterior lighting at Magna.
“Lighting has always been a safety system,and it’s now becoming a premier safetysystem,” he said. “In the future, with EVs andautonomous vehicles, lighting will be ameans of communication. There is a lot ofgrowth in the lighting industry yet to betapped. Being in exterior lighting is excitingand always changing.”
His full schedule of work and volunteeringmeans that golf lessons and basketballgames get put on the back burner. But henever says no to playing with his 7-year-olddaughter, Naomi, a second-grader who lovesBarbie dolls.
On a recent Microsoft Teams call, Wilsoninvited Naomi into his home office inMichigan to show virtual visitors her newBarbie ambulance that morphs into anemergency room.
“Yes, I play with Barbie dolls,” Wilson sayswith a laugh. “The most fun I have is playingwith my daughter and her dolls. They takemy mind away from other things. EverythingI do for fun is with my family.”
GROWING CAREERS AND “TAKING THETEAM TO THE NEXT LEVEL” ARE KEYMOTIVATORS FOR WILSON.
Wilson was raised in a single-parent household in Denmark, SouthCarolina. His mother, Betty Lewis, an advanced math teacher,cultivated a “no-excuses mentality” in her children. Growing upwithout a father led Wilson to write the book In Search of a Father:Achieving Your Rite of Passage on the Road to Manhood. He alsolaunched Wilstonian Enterprises in 2001, a company that continuesto work with churches, grassroots organizations and youth groupsto “inspire people to be their best.”