Mentoring, Training and Certification: Jonathan Ng’s Career Journey
We meet a lot of people in our lives – some come, some go. Others become a fixture. For Jonathan Ng, a business development project manager at DENSO Products and Services America, Inc. (DPAM), DENSO’s aftermarket unit in Long Beach, California, people have been essential on his career journey.
Early in his career, Jonathan found himself to be an unemployed architecture graduate. After reflecting on what would be next, he took a chance, joining an automotive lighting manufacturer. As part of the job, he regularly attended the annual Automotive Aftermarket Parts Expo (AAPEX) show in Las Vegas.
A Lifechanging Encounter
One morning before the AAPEX show started, he saw a job posting for a senior product specialist at DENSO. As luck would have it, on his way walking to the show, he saw someone in a DENSO shirt.
“I didn’t know anything about the company, so I was just looking to get an impression of the company and what it was like to work there,” he said. "I talked to Eddie Stevenson, who worked in marketing in DENSO’s Long Beach, California, location and had been with the company more than 15 years. He was incredible, giving me his time and an excellent impression of the company.”
So, Jonathan took another leap and applied, eventually getting an offer for the senior product specialist position in the product management group. He was young, nervous and had a lot of questions, so he asked if he could follow up with the supervisor that interviewed him.
“I was on the phone with Reggie (Cruz) for an hour,” Jonathan said. “I needed mentoring and coaching – he provided it then and still does today. When I started, I was in his office an hour a day asking questions and talking through what I was learning and seeing. That’s a lot to invest in one person, and I’m so grateful he did.”
Valuable Mentoring and Training
With ongoing mentoring from Reggie Cruz and Manny Rodriguez, who stepped into Reggie’s role when he was promoted, Jonathan had a strong support system. After a couple years, he recognized that many of his peers had business degrees or attended schools with a strong automotive focus. He felt his architecture degree put him at a disadvantage.
“Though I was gaining experience, I didn’t feel properly educated to continue to advance in my career, so I asked if DENSO would sponsor me in pursuing my project management professional (PMP) certification,” he said. “They were happy I asked and agreed to sponsor and support me through the process. But it didn’t stop there. Throughout the years, I was invited to participate in additional trainings provided by DENSO, including the regional leadership development program.”
After six years in product management at DPAM, Jonathan was tapped for a role in corporate planning by no other than his first DENSO mentor, Reggie. Today, he’s been in the role for approximately seven months, and Jonathan says he’s right where he wants to be.
“Getting to look ‘behind the curtain’ is fascinating,” Jonathan said. “This role is a great balance of seeing what DENSO is doing globally, meeting new people and coordinating new business across DPAM. For years I worked in my oxygen sensor ‘bubble’ and now I have the opportunity to move beyond that to broaden my DENSO knowledge and network.”
The Keys to Success
With each transition in his career, Jonathan relied on his natural inquisitiveness to help him acclimate and understand his role.
“I see things as black or white, I don’t like gray areas, so when something isn’t clear, I ask a lot of questions,” he said. “I need to be comfortable with something before I can execute on it. So, at the start of a new position, I try to gather and analyze as much information as I can.”
Jonathan has advice for others trying to blaze their own career path.
“Figure out what you want to do and how to articulate it,” he said. “If you are struggling to do that, find someone you trust to help you. Then take the initiative to communicate it to your leaders often and regularly. Remember, leaders are busy and manage multiple people, so it’s up to you to keep the conversation going.”