Ford Brand Chief Musa Tariq: Detroit’s ‘Go Get It’ Culture Is Ripe for Innovation

Building on nearly a decade of experience working for some of the world’s most iconic brands, Musa Tariq, vice president and chief brand officer for Ford Motor Co., offered his insight on what it takes to achieve career success in today’s increasingly connected world.

In a one-on-one interview with Tim Stevens, editor-at-large for CNET and editor-in-chief for Roadshow, Tariq discussed everything from Detroit’s revitalization, to creating a strong personal brand and staying true to individual career aspirations.

“Marketing and automotive are evolving rapidly; it is one of the most exciting times to be in both industries,” Tariq told students and automotive industry leaders attending the 2017 MICHauto Summit.

Tariq, who previously led marketing efforts for Apple, Burberry and Nike, said having an up-close seat during the automotive industry’s transformation from traditional automaker to mobility provider has been both exciting and challenging in communicating Ford’s message to diverse audiences around the world.

“History and heritage are important to people and we want to tell that story the right way,” he said. “Brands need to be clear in what they stand for and believe in. While new companies don’t always articulate the ‘why,’ Ford has a very clear ‘why’ in that it believes freedom of movement drives human connection. Mobility is a fundamental right,” he said.

A transplant from San Francisco, Tariq said he is impressed with Detroit’s innovative spirit and “go get it” attitude, which he said lends itself well to attracting some of the world’s best and brightest talent.

Key Takeaways:

  • Marketing magic happens when there is diversity of thought.
  • Innovation occurs in two spheres: Where there is surplus and where you create out of collective energy.
  • Having a “why” and a purpose is key to personal success.
  • Do something you love in life, and happiness will follow.
  • Everyone has a personal brand and that brand comes across in every decision made.

Dan Gilbert on Detroit Talent at NAIAS: ‘No Place Else Compares’

Speaking at the kickoff of the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) on Sunday, Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert said no place on the planet has more talent and drive than Detroit – a key selling point for tech and automotive companies looking to become players in the next-generation mobility space.

“The energy, cooperation and collaboration is here,” Gilbert told an audience of national and international journalists at the opening of the new Automobili-D exhibit. “You can have a great product and service but you have to have the talent … Detroit is that magnet.”

In addressing questions from Bloomberg reporter Betty Liu on what sets Detroit apart from other cities in the United States, Gilbert said he believes giving millennials the opportunity to feel like they are part of something greater than themselves is a major selling point.

Gilbert, a 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference keynote speaker, also reiterated his message of being willing to take big risks and said he is amazed at the number of businesses moving back to the city. Noting that existing real estate in the downtown area is nearing capacity, Gilbert predicted that 10 to 15 high-rise buildings will begin construction in Detroit over the next five years. View the interview here.

Other announcements throughout the day included:

  • Disney’s Pixar Animation Studio offered a sneak peak of its upcoming “Cars 3” film. Flanked by a life-size model of “Lightening McQueen,” the star of the film series, John Lasseter, Pixar’s chief creative officer, discussed Detroit and the auto show’s impact on the studio’s blockbuster movie. Research and development for the first film began after Lasseter visited the auto show in 2001.
  • Chris Thomas, founder and partner of Fontinalis Partners LLC, discussed Detroit’s role in the future of mobility and encouraged public and private collaboration to keep Michigan at the forefront of transportation as a service. “Detroit has an opportunity to be a global hub for mobility but we have to act now, or it will pass us by,” he said.
  • John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, introduced the Chrysler Pacifica self-driving minivan, which will be on the roads in California and Arizona later this month. He also said Michigan built 100 Pacifica minivans that will be the first vehicles to receive Waymo’s self-driving technology. “We’re not seeking to build a better car,” Krafcik said. “We’re seeking to build a better driver.”
  • Ken Washington of Ford Motor Co., Danny Shapiro of NVIDIA, and David Strickland of the Self-Driving Coalition, participated in a State of Autonomy panel discussion for the last event of the day. The panelists discussed the latest technology, current legislation, major consumer concerns and what needs to happen to take autonomous vehicles from prototypes to mainstream. The panel was moderated by Tim Stevens of CNET’s “Roadshow.”