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Novel Thinking

Great things never came from comfort zones.


As I was skimming through my Instagram one day, I came across this amazing mural recently painted at Eastern Market. I reached out to Sydney, the artist, and asked her to come to the plant. Two weeks later I giddily set up two Go-Pro Cameras to capture the project (video below).

Detroit artist Sydney G. James was commissioned to paint a 350-square-foot mural inside the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant. The mural embodies the dedicated and hardworking spirit of the employees and features the faces of actual DHAM workers.

“I am ecstatic about painting this mural because It was a chance to create a modern-day rendition of the Rivera Court fresco,” James said. “I’ve been obsessed with the Rivera Court since I was seven years old so this project is the epitome of living the dream!”

Each week, we shared a new employee’s (someone depicted in the mural) story on the GM social pages.


2016 was the first year GM included its hourly workforce in the Workplace of Choice Survey. With 1,500 employees and growing, I knew we wouldn’t be able to reach everyone easily. It was my idea to take a unique approach to delivering it but it was a team effort to make it all happen.

A cross-functional team made up of skilled-trades, IT specialists, human resources, communications and labor relations employees converted the plant’s tour carts into a mobile survey site. Every four hours, the cart moves into a different location throughout the plant, playing music and attracting employees along the way.

We want all of our employees’ voices to be heard. The idea arose from knowing that we would get a better response rate if we could make the survey as convenient and fun as possible.

Both plant and UAW leadership rallied around the initiative, motivating the team to the think outside of the box.


As an intern, I developed and organized an Employee Art Gala. Employees had the chance to submit their artwork and have it displayed in the plant for two weeks.  We awarded one artist with a “People’s Choice Award” based on votes and had eight celebrity  judges choose category winners. Initially, I set a goal of 20 submissions. We surpassed that goal by 15% with art work ranging from paintings to photography to woodworking.


With the help of the exceptional communications intern class of 2015, I organized the most amazing Ride & Drive experience for GM Interns. As the only local Detroiter, I was instrumental in helping the team find locations that really told Detroit’s rich history and vibrant future. Read about it below!

General Motors interns from universities across the country gathered for “Discover Detroit with Chevrolet: A Ride and Drive Scavenger Hunt” on July 23 for an opportunity to experience the advanced technology and internal features of the Chevrolet Cruze and Chevrolet Sonic, while also exploring the booming culture of Detroit. The event was the first time twenty of the thirty participants drove one or both of the vehicles and the first time many had their perceptions of Detroit challenged.

Miss Michigan 2014, KT Maviglia, kicked off the event with an inspiring speech encouraging young people to invest in the city.

“The future of Detroit, much like the future of our nation, relies on us, the millenials,” said Maviglia. “We have the right combination of ambition and compassion to strive for a future that is bright for everyone.”

SME and Assistant Manager of GCCX Communications, Stuart Fowle, followed Maviglia’s words with tips and advice for using OnStar’s Remote Link app, turn-by-turn navigation, 4G LTE Wifi, Chevy MyLink and more.

The students took that information and rode off into the city with a list of possible locations to visit and corresponding points for each. The locations included: Avalon International Bakery, Bon Bon Bon, The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Thinker, The Fisher Building, Pure Detroit, Great Lakes Coffee, Monument to Joe Louis, Rivard Plaza, Shinola, Spirit of Detroit, the Seal of the City of Detroit and Hart Plaza.

In addition, rules were put in place to ensure each intern was able to interact with the car’s capabilities. After completing a task or stopping at a location, the participants were required to take a photo and upload it to Twitter using the hashtag #internsdrivechevy. By the end of the event, 174 original tweets were posted.

With the combined tweets reaching hundreds of people, the hope was that friends and family members of the participants would not only be intrigued by all that Chevrolet has to offer, but that they’d challenge any preconceived notions they had about Detroit as well.

Based on a follow-up survey given at the end of the event, overall perceptions of Detroit improved. One intern said, “I heard a lot of bad things [about the city] but going around changed my misconception.”

After the scavenger hunt, participants arrived at the Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant for food catered by American Coney Island and awards. A group of three GCCX interns won the competition with more than 800 points and each team member received a gift card to Punch Bowl Social

Interested in seeing more of my favorite projects? Click the links below:

NOVEL THINKING                  LEADERSHIP                  CUSTOMER FOCUS 


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