John studied to be a teacher, ten years later he was a skydiving instructor and now has a small business that manufactures garden gnomes. Mary studied marine biology before moving into hydroponics, dabbled in martial arts and is currently studying speech therapy. The old days of working for the same company for forty years, or even working in the same field for your entire life is over. This is mostly true, which makes the stories of Michael Jude and his fellow Nissan Graduate Scheme alumni stand out.
Jude, at only 34, is the new HR Director at the Nissan Sunderland Plant in the UK and the youngest director in the plant’s history. That it comes at a critical time when the plant is setting up to launch the third generation Qashqai, Nissan’s award-winning C-segment crossover may simply indicate that Jude is an exceptionally gifted young man. He no doubts is – having started at the plant as a fresh graduate in 2010 before gaining broader experience in Nissan’s wider European business.
The Sunderland plant seems especially successful at growing young graduates and retaining them in the company until they become leaders in their fields. Nine of the company’s senior management started in the Sunderland Graduate Scheme.
Alan Johnson started at the plant in 1991, worked for Nissan in Russia, Spain and France before returning to Sunderland as Vice President for Manufacturing in 2020. He said of Jude: “Our plant has a rich history of developing the talent of its highly skilled team, and Michael’s appointment just shows what can be achieved.”
“As alumni myself I know that our graduate scheme is the perfect springboard for a successful career – I would encourage anyone looking for an opportunity to take a look at the positions we have available at the plant.”
Another notable alumnus is Production Director Adam Pennick, who distinguished himself through his role in manufacturing PPE during the early stages of COVID last year. Nissan Sunderland alumni are sprinkled globally in the company’s leadership: Roddy Macleod, VP Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management for Africa, Middle East and India, Andy March, VP for Production Engineering in Europe, and other leaders such as Michael Simpson, Nicola Stoker and Simon O’Donnell.
These names are not important in this story, but we use them just to emphasise that they are real people in real leadership roles in the same company they started as young graduates. At a time when people are expected to change employers and job roles every few years, it is refreshing to find a corporate employer determined to grow and retain young people with promise. Because Nissan knows you need exceptional people to make outstanding cars.