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Emerging Automotive Professional: HELLA’s Madison Kielty

Connect with Madison on LinkedIn.


Getting into Automotive 

When were you first exposed to automotive?

As a child, I first learned about automotive at Greenfield Village in elementary school. In my career, my first exposure to automotive was in my college courses through extra credit opportunities.

Did you grow up with family members in the automotive industry? 

Although my family members were not in the automotive industry, I had a few family friends who were. Some were at the plants and some were in the business side.

Growing up, what was your first impression of the automotive industry? How would you have described the industry? 

Because I did not have immediate family in the auto industry, it was not a forefront in my life. The extent of my knowledge was that Henry Ford was from Dearborn and there was a museum about cars in Dearborn named after him.

What inspired you to pursue the automotive and mobility field? 

I actually did not plan to go into automotive. Frankly, I didn’t have a plan in general. I knew I wanted an internship in marketing, and a classmate and friend texted me with information about an internship at an automotive supplier. At the time, I did not know what this really meant, but it was an opportunity I was willing to learn more about.

What interests led you to consider a career in automotive? 

I knew that I was interested in helping people and marketing. I did not know what exactly I wanted to do with my career, so to have an opportunity presented to me was a great starting point. If I am being honest, it was something that I knew I would learn from, while getting paid. I did not go into the opportunity thinking that it was something that I would continue my career in.

What college did you attend, what was your major, and why did you choose that path? 

I attended Wayne State University in Detroit. I graduated with a degree in marketing. I knew that I wanted to help people and could have gone down multiple different paths but knew I did not want medical or teaching. My counselor introduced me to marketing. With marketing, I could help people do their job while still achieving something of my own.


Automotive Career: Then and Now 

What opportunities did you have in college that allowed you to explore or start your career in automotive, including any co-ops or internships? 

On my path to getting my marketing degree, there was an overlap in courses for the Global Supply Chain degree. Being at a school in Detroit, the motor city, there were hundreds of supply chain opportunities in automotive. This was my initial ‘in’ for the automotive industry. I began creating contacts through the supply chain courses which led to more marketing contacts and opportunities.

What was your first job post-college? 

I had a two-year internship that lasted from the June 2017 through June 2019. After graduating in May of 2018, I continued this internship for a year after graduation. From there, my first full-time job was  at HELLA where I am today. My biggest lesson learned is that I do not know everything. I barely know anything. This is okay. Although I learned a lot from my internship, that was only a small fraction of what I need to know for my career.

In your current role as a marketing analyst, what projects and programs do you work on? What does a typical day look like? 

A typical day for me looks like being a support person for many different projects. I manage multiple different tasks and projects daily. While I have daily tasks, I also work with third-party vendors for support on media creation, work with our global colleagues on respective topics, curate press releases, attend meetings and webinars across the industry to gather data and information, and report back to the company with my learnings.

Typical work includes: 

  • Social media
  • Press and media communications
  • Event coordination support
  • Stakeholder support for internal projects
  • Sales support

Advice for Young Students 

Knowing what you know now, if you could give your younger self one tip or piece of advice, what would it be?

Be bold. I know it can be uncomfortable to go talk to a stranger, but this stranger could lead to something great. You can go far with credentials and a strong GPA, but connections and conversations can lead you further.

What advice do you have for high school students who are interested in automotive, but unsure if it’s the career for them? 

You will never know if you don’t try. The automotive industry is not what you think. You are not building cars or selling cars but your contribution in any position does have an impact on a vehicle or even an impact on the end consumer.

What is the best piece of advice you were ever given? 

Try…and fail. You learn more from failure than you will from a textbook or notes. You can prepare yourself as much as you can, but when it comes to learning and growing from the experience, you will 10 times out of 10, learn more from a failure. Think about when you learned how to ride a bike. You may have gone straight but you didn’t understand the importance of keeping your balance until you fell and scraped your knee.

What do you love about working in the automotive industry (and specifically the automotive industry in Michigan)? 

My original goal and purpose for my career was to help people. In my job, I get to help so many people. I have multiple projects of my own that are great to accomplish, yet I play a crucial role in helping so many other people in getting their job done. All of which helps the end consumer and vehicle.

Being in Michigan is just super cool because all major players are here. Not only does Michigan have such a strong and dense history, a lot of automotive business in the U.S. is in Michigan and the Midwest. Also, Michigan is just awesome.

Do you participate in any organizations outside of work? Or have any hobbies (unrelated to automotive)? Do you feel the work-life balance in the auto industry allows you to continue these passions?  

I am a high school and travel volleyball coach. Volleyball has always been part of my life and I chose which college I would attend so that I could continue my volleyball career. I very much have work-life balance to where I can enjoy the things I love, outside of work. With flexibility, I am able to arrive a little earlier and leave a little earlier, so that I can get to coaching.