AutoConnex Connecting you to the automotive aftermarket

September 25, 2018 / Career Spotlight

Caroline Lacasse


Job title and employer

Learning and organizational development specialist for the automotive industry, Upsylon

What does your job title mean?

I help businesses maintain their quality of work and products or make improvements so they can be better.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

Laurentian region, Quebec, Canada

Where do you live now?

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Where did you complete your training or education?                          

Doctoral degree in Industrial and organizational psychology, Université de Montréal
Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology (honours), Université de Montréal
Certificate in Pedagogical Training (vocational training), Université de Sherbrooke
Diploma of Vocational Studies in Collision repair, CEP St-Jérôme
Diploma of Vocational Studies in Electronics Repairs and Installation, Polyvalente des Monts

When I was in high school, I enjoyed…

  • Music
  • Industrial Arts
  • Science
  • Technology

When I was in high school, I was someone who…

  • Brought people together
  • Liked helping people
  • Organized Activities for my friends
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Played video games
  • Was really creative
  • Never wanted to be in the classroom
  • Didn’t really care about grades
  • Other:  never wanted to do like the others! Generally, I succeed without making too much effort.

Describe what you do at work.

Businesses normally look for my help for one of two reasons. Either they want to know what to do to ensure that workers (or bosses) remain competent to do a good job, or they want to reduce staff turnover. That is, they want to prevent their employees from leaving their jobs for one reason or another.

When I meet with a potential client, the first thing I do is to make sure I understand their needs or the problems that he or she wants to settle in the company. If I think I can help, I write a business proposal. This is a “game plan” that describes what I propose to do and the costs associated with my intervention.

Once they accept the proposal, I can start my work! To begin, I must have a good understanding of the situation. I do this by collecting information using the appropriate technique for the context. For example, I may do interviews with managers and workers. Or I might make observations of the people at work. In other cases I might distribute questionnaires to get specific information. These data collections can be done with the bosses, the employees, and sometimes even their customers.

Following the data analysis, I can propose different things to make the desired improvements. These might be strategies for better communication, changes in working procedures, etc. I can also recommend or create training to provide specific knowledge and skills to the workers and managers. In other words, I propose solutions so that everyone is in the right position, to do the right thing, at the right time, with the best tools or best techniques possible.

To achieve positive results, my client has to be involved. But I also have to make use of my problem solving and critical thinking skills. I combine my experience and my knowledge in the automotive sector, with my knowledge of behavioural science at work (occupational psychology) and pedagogy (training). Some of the data collected also requires that I perform statistical analysis to fully understand the situation or to link different information.

How does your job affect peoples lives?             

Sometimes, when we are too close to the trees, we cannot see the forest! My work brings another point of view. Or I might be able to see a problematic situation that had not yet been noticed and propose solutions! Small changes often make a big difference in people’s work. And this leads to a happier, more productive workplace.

What motivates you in your career?     

I like the fact that I can make a difference in a business by combining my knowledge and experience in the automotive sector, training and industrial psychology! The automotive industry is a fascinating industry in which to work because it is constantly changing. There is always more technology in vehicles and repair techniques are changing quickly. As a result, the knowledge, skills and approaches required to perform good work, whether as a manager or a worker (collision repair technician, mechanical technician, etc.), must also change. I like that my job offers the opportunity to add winning conditions to enable people to excel, to grow to be happier and more efficient in their work environment.

Describe your career path.       

I have always had a great interest in the automotive industry. When I was in high school, I wanted to become a specialist in automotive electronics. But some people told me that this job did not exist! So I went studied home electronics (TV, camera, etc.). I quickly came to the conclusion that I did not like it … probably because it did not talk enough about cars! So I decided to study collision repair.

I worked for a few years as a painter and collision repair technician. Given my understanding of electronics and collision repair, I had the opportunity to teach collision repair at a vocational school as some modules require electricity knowledge. At the same time, I started my part-time university studies in teaching. I then discovered that although I liked manual tasks, I was also an intellectual! My need to understand the processes, whether technical or psychological, has always been present in me.

After a few years of teaching, I felt the need to continue my studies. I wanted to gain new knowledge and skills that would allow me to help the automotive industry from another angle. So I am now an industrial and organizational psychologist. I specialize in training and organizational development in the automotive industry. This is a career that satisfies my love of the automotive industry and my desire to understand how people function in an organization. I love it!

What activities do you like to do outside of work?                           

I enjoy reading (that was not the case before!) and travel.

What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?

Several jobs that we now find on the labour market did not exist that long ago. Do not discourage yourself even if people tell you “this type of work does not exist!”. You might be the one who creates a new job!

Also, do not limit yourself to “manual vs. intellectual tasks”. Having an interest in these 2 “categories” can only be an advantage for you; make you more creative, and allow you to have more varieties in your work.

 

Let’s Talk Science is proud to partner with the Automotive Industries Association of Canada to help shed light on the many interesting STEM related careers available in the automotive aftermarket industry. Let’s Talk Science is a national charitable organization focused on engaging youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and outreach to support youth development.