Steve Renaud knew he had the potential to be a better manager. He just needed the proper tools.
Starting as a welding engineer 21 years ago, and now general manager of the Machinery Division, Renaud has enjoyed success at CenterLine (Windsor) Limited, a company that builds automated machine tools for the automotive industry and which was recently named among Canada’s Top 50 Best Managed Companies in March, 2014.
With a background in mechanical engineering, but no formal business training, Renaud knew that maintaining momentum was crucial for both his career and the company’s long-term success.
“As we’ve grown as a company, I wanted an opportunity to learn more from other companies and see what they were doing,” he said.
In his 10 years as general manager, Renaud and the company have faced the significant struggles of the North American automotive industry head-on. Yet the Windsor-based company is experiencing unprecedented growth, reaching $100 million in sales last year.
Personal and professional development became a clear next step for Renaud. So despite being in the middle of a major building expansion proposal, he enrolled in the three-week Ivey Executive Program and picked up his first case study.
“It was a lot more impactful than I was expecting. I was expecting you ‘read the case, have a discussion about the case, come to a conclusion, and then move on,’ ” he said. “But the interactive learning, through roleplaying, setting up teams, and walking through the story, you really felt you were participating in the case as if you were making decisions yourself. To run through what the actual outcome was and to see how it turned out, that really stuck as far as learning material.”
Action Planning Sessions were another welcome aspect to the Ivey Executive Program for Renaud’s class. Course attendees could present their personal business questions or opportunities to the group and hear feedback and advice from their classmates, similar to having “a room full of consultants,” he said.
Reflecting on his decade of management, Renaud admits he could have done more in his own role to provide transparent leadership and to calm his staff during tough times.
“The whole case study around Maple Leaf Foods really left an impact,” he said. “Staying true to your values through whatever crisis is the huge message there.”
With a clearer understanding of the importance of leadership, Renaud is now focused on becoming more of what he calls a ‘visible leader’ and developing the foresight to make decisions as they come up. Likewise, as CenterLine continues its investment into good management, the organization is poised to be a ‘visible leader’ in the automotive industry.