Insiya Meherally, BBA, 2020

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January 12th, 2017 – Interview with John Cappella, Managing Director, Porsche Center
On a pleasant January afternoon after what felt like an unusually long Business Analytics class, I was granted an interview on behalf of The Insider with John Cappella, the Managing Director of the new Porsche Center in North Toronto and an MBA (’04) and BBA (’99) from our very own Schulich School of Business. During the course of the interview Mr. Cappella generously shared with me insight and wisdom from his journey through university, job interviews and the recruitment process, and from a directorial position such as his, while answering some of my own questions regarding the Do’s and Don’ts of networking. I have selected the top ten interview quotes that I believe summarize this wonderful interview for you to read, hoping that you, too, may gain inspiration from it.

  1. “Take time to enjoy life. When you’re in school, you sometimes get caught up with countless hours of studying and doing assignments and working exceptionally hard, and something I learned was that you have to achieve a balance. I was able to achieve that balance in school, but there were definitely some times – I remember staying overnight at school, I booked myself a room and basically studied all through the night and had lots of coffee, but at the same time I took some time to enjoy the good life, and I didn’t realize how important that was until I started working.” Remember that you have your whole life ahead of you, and there are plenty of things to celebrate along the way: getting into Schulich, having great friends to chill with, or even just managing to pass MGMT1000.
  2. “Doing well on tests and assignments is great, but at the end of the day when you’re in the workplace, it really comes down to that, as well as teamwork, interaction with people, working with different people and the type of experience and knowledge you only get by being involved in clubs and activities.” That being said, I should mention here that he said it wasn’t exactly what club you were involved in, but more so the fact that you had the experience of working with people that could be a real asset in the workplace. And YorkU has over 300 clubs alone, so even if Salsa or Quidditch don’t fit your tastes, you’re bound to find something here, or even be inspired to start your own club!
  3. “When I was in school, I took a bunch of Finance courses, a bunch of Accounting courses, a bunch of Marketing courses, HR courses… and today, in the kind of job I have today, I deal with all of those areas; I deal with Accounting, I deal with Marketing, I deal with HR, and you know, when you’re here in school you take HR a bit for granted, but when you’re in a position when you’re with people you’re responsible for, HR is actually the most important thing.” Mr. Cappella went on to call HR the “greatest ingredient for success” for managerial positions and we can all agree that it is, and he even credited his constant promotion to knowledge of the different areas in Business. As Mr. Cappella said, you’ll probably end up using a bit of everything Schulich teaches you, so don’t forget the Office of 2020, because it’ll come in handy somewhere.
  4. “Even though I had one goal when I started the BBA, which was to become an Accountant (CA at the time), I quickly learned through the courses that that was not what I was interested in, so my first great decision there was to recognize that and not go down that stream just because it was what I thought in the beginning, and in the end, it worked out.” Don’t feel pressured to specialize in a field because it sounds good – don’t feel pressured to specialize at all! Take some time to research and network with professionals from the industry and you will eventually find the field that sounds right – not good – for you.
  5. “I remember writing about a hundred different resumes and I customized every single one. I remember being rejected by many and I remember thinking the interviews went great and then getting the rejection letters. It was certainly tough and quite frustrating to be applying to all these great jobs and not get any, but you have to realize that there are a lot of people applying to these jobs and you have to keep at it, because eventually the right one will get back to you.” And this, folks, is coming from the current Managing Director of the new Porsche Center in North Toronto, the former Director of Network Development at Porsche Canada, and the former Director of BMW MINI. So, know that it will work out!
  6. “If someone is looking to go into the automotive industry, or the medical industry, or any industry, you definitely should, before going in an interview or even before applying to the job, really research that industry and see if it’s something you’d like. Maybe it’s an industry you didn’t even think you’d be interested in. We have a lot of people come into the industry through a job and then they learned how fascinating an industry it can be and have since become fans of the industry.”  Mr. Cappella continued on to say that a job interview is an interview on both sides, not just the interviewer asking the candidate questions; it is important to consider things like what kind of manager the interviewer would be, what kind of industry it is, and how the company might be involved in the community. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it shows insight and interest, and just might be the kind of attitude the company is looking for.
  7. “Money is one thing, but the most valuable thing we all have in life is time.” This quote is particularly important – it doesn’t matter how fast-paced our lives are with all the internships and networking events or how many zeroes we plan to have on each paycheck when we graduate, time is something we won’t be able to earn back, so it’s important to make the most of these moments we have because, let’s be honest, we’re not getting them back.
  8. “When it comes to Management, there’s the saying ‘Treat people how you want to be treated’, but I don’t believe in that. I believe in treating people how they want to be treated. We’re all different and everyone needs different things for their job satisfaction and to feel that they’re contributing… I’ve found a cooperative approach is more successful. I like to make sure everyone within the team works together and we’re contributing ideas, contributing to each other’s departments and working together. Try to motivate people, rather than trying to order them. And empower people. The more you empower people, I’ve found even with myself, the more they’re going to want to put effort in. There are a few things you have to maintain and, if you maintain them, together you’ll achieve a lot more.” When I probed this further, Mr. Cappella said that the key was to find a balance between empowerment and management. Too much of either leads to a lack of guidance and coaching, or major micromanagement, so establishing rules is a big part of it. This goes for all group projects and team environments – treat people right and you’re bound to find success somewhere down the road. After all, didn’t NETA teach us anything?
  9. “In the first interviews I gave, I thought it was all about my marks and what courses I took. I didn’t realize that there are other things people are looking for. I didn’t know that things like attitude and motivation were that important. I don’t know if that’s necessarily changed in the last decade but I often tell people today who have recently graduated or are graduating that building those relationships and getting involved in the community and school are important.” He further added, “Sometimes there will be a long list of associations on a resume that might look good, but in the interview, the attitude that one would need to be in all these associations and contribute to them becomes apparent and you will see it. So, listing all of these is one thing, but doing is another, because its only if you’re doing it that you’re learning all of the skills needed to interact with people and work in groups, and these are the skills that are important.” This really stood out for me because I often hear Schulich students list a bunch of acronyms that they have registered with, but then they say they’ve barely attended any events for the clubs. That isn’t what clubs and societies are meant for; they’re meant for learning about the organization and serious networking, and if you went to an event and found that that isn’t the right subject for you, maybe now’s the time to look for another one (the Doctor Who Club, Foodies, and Henna Art Club are some very real examples from YorkU’s diverse club portfolio!).
  10. “How you differentiate yourself is not on a piece of paper. When you get 400 resumes, it’s difficult to go through every detail on each piece of paper. If it’s an industry you’re interested in, you have to get involved in that industry by going to different events for that industry. So, for automotive, for example, there are different events that happen related to automotive. I’ve had people reach out to me personally and find opportunities to meet and talk. The resume alone is very difficult to differentiate and different styles of resume, for me, don’t do much. It really comes down to some kind of initiative taken.” That being said, he also laid emphasis on being yourself when networking, while telling the recruiter about yourself and why you are interested in the industry. The example he gave me was, “Hey, I love Porsche. My favorite car is…” and this demonstrates passion and knowledge related to the industry. And even though there may not be a job available at the time, if you manage to differentiate yourself successfully, the recruiter may remember you a year down the road when a position is available.  So start early!

At the end of the interview, I asked Mr. Cappella to summarize his Schulich journey in three words, and staying true to his industrial roots, he said, “What a ride!”. And these were truly the perfect words to describe a challenging, rewarding and inspirational pathway that led to a steep ascent up the corporate ladder to where he is today, the Managing Director for the new Porsche dealership opening in Spring.

The Insider would like to thank Mr. Cappella for his time, and to wish him the best of luck for the new Center!






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  1. May 17, 2017 at 5:11 am — Reply

    It’s challenging to find well-informed people on this matter, but you seem like you understand what you’re talking about!

  2. May 20, 2017 at 12:09 pm — Reply

    Way cool, some valid points! I appreciate you making this post available, the rest of the
    website is also high quality. Have a enjoyable.

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