A car-lover at his core, 37-year-old Adam Paterson is the Managing Director at INFINITI Canada.
As one of the youngest senior executives at the global company, his Canadian team is pushing the envelope in the automotive industry while delivering on their seventh consecutive year of growth.
Paterson’s competitive spirit and passion for all things automotive led him to his career at INFINITI and Nissan brands, joining INFINITI Canada in 2011 as a chief marketing manager. For the next six years, he held a number of roles of increasing importance throughout INFINITI and Nissan Canada, including marketing, sales operations and dealer operations.
In his free time? Paterson enjoys running, travelling, snowboarding and has tasked himself with learning French! We had a chance to sit down with the notable young pro to learn more about his career path and his predictions for the future of luxury and the automotive industry.
You are a young, senior executive at INFINITI Canada. And you’re Canadian! How did you get started?
I have always been a car person. Following school and a year-long overseas backpacking trip, It was time to come back and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Networking and reaching out to friends in the business, I was eventually given an internship that kick-started my career in the auto industry. I have been lucky enough to work my way up by having really fantastic managers over the years, as well as a lot of hard work that has gotten me to where I am today.
Why do you love your job and what are some of the cool things you get to do?
Being a car enthusiast, anything product-related is extremely interesting to me. I recently had the opportunity to visit Japan – a trip we take about twice a year to visit the design and production centres. I’m really fortunate to be able to get involved in the other markets around the world and give direction to our designers and engineers as to what the future of INFINITI products should look like.
What would you consider your biggest accomplishment to date?
Professionally, building the team we have here at INFINITI Canada. Our INFINITI Canada brand team is small but we have a fantastic core group of people that love coming into work every day. Walking out of my office and seeing that the team is not only having a good time, but are also delivering on our seventh consecutive year of growth, is very gratifying for me. Moving forward, we have a lot to accomplish and I am confident that we have the right team to do it.
What does the future of marketing in automotive and luxury look like to you?
What’s really interesting is that while we offer seven vehicles, the reason that our customers like them all vary. The move to digital and dynamic creative optimization is allowing us to tell that story about our product to each consumer based on what will resonate with them. Even if that means telling multiple stories about the same product to different audiences. It will allow us to show the full scale of the INFINITI brand, and make sure we are effectively telling the story that will resonate with our consumers.
What do you think about marketing towards millennials and their attitudes towards luxury?
In some ways, I don’t think millennials are different than any other generation in that they don’t want what their parents had. If you think about it, the minivan is dead because today, young families don’t necessarily want what their parents wanted. This is why SUVs have become as popular as they have. That said, it’s not always about the vehicle style. While we used to sell cars based on horsepower and zero to sixty speed, tomorrow, we are going to be selling cars based on the efficiency. These days, we are asked more about the technology in the car than the horsepower. This is 100% different than 6 or 7 years ago. What consumers want and expect is continuously evolving.
INFINITI touts the new QX50 as its most important vehicle launch in the brand’s history. Why is that?
This is for a number of reasons. It is our most technically advanced INFINITI ever. It also appeals to the widest segment of Canadians that are buying vehicles today. The midsize luxury SUV segment makes up about 37% of all luxury vehicles sold in Canada. That is more than double any other segment. From a pure volume opportunity, it’s massive for us. It puts us in front of so many more Canadians than we have had before. On top of that, it brings new innovative technology to the market. One thing we find is most appealing to the younger buyers or millennials is ProPILOT Assist, which is our autonomous hands-on driving assisting aid. I know personally, it really helps me with the mundane task of driving in terrible stop-and-go Gardiner traffic on the way to the office every day! It makes the drive a little bit easier.
The efficiency found in QX50 is also top of the line. With QX50, we launched our first-ever VC-Turbo engine. After 20 years of study and design work, we are the first auto manufacturer ever to launch this motor. We are extremely proud of our company’s commitment to bringing this to market, and it continues INFINITI’s legacy of introducing world’s first technologies.
What does Luxury Should Be Lived In mean?
It means you are enjoying the things you worked very hard for. Most people feel that when they have the opportunity to buy their first luxury car, it’s a big step in life. In Canada, we see that there are two major purchase reasons for a new car: getting a new job or promotion or a family change like welcoming your first child into the world. For both of those things, you are not in the position to be buying a car that you just park and leave in your garage. These are things you’ve worked very hard to achieve but you still want to involve in your day-to-day life.
Is there a business decision you look back on now that you wish you’d made differently?
Both a business and a personal decision, I wish I had begun learning French at an earlier age! Both languages are fluently spoken in Canada. We do 30% of our business in the province of Quebec and I think it’s appropriate and very reasonable that we are able to communicate in their language properly. I’m working on it! I once did an auto presentation in French to dealers and Canadian journalists. I got some smiles, I am sure my pronunciation wasn’t perfect, but hey, at least I tried.
What does ambition mean to you?
To me, ambition means setting yourself a goal, communicating it to others and holding yourself accountable to deliver on it.
What parts about your personality or skills and approach have helped you in your career?
I am very competitive and determined. I am the kind of person that doesn’t like to fail on something that I have told people I want to accomplish. That’s how I have kept myself motivated to get to where I am today. That’s not just in business, it’s also personal.
Any hidden talents? Secret passions?
Unfortunately, I don’t sing, I am not in a band, nothing too wild like that! That said, I am a huge snowboarder. I absolutely love to snowboard! To me, there is nothing better than that first run of the day when no one else has been down the hill and you’re all alone. With the hours and hard work I put in, it’s pretty easy not to feel good if you don’t take care of yourself.