Ryan Antisdel is a 2011 graduate of the Master of Business Administration program at the Daytona Beach campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Ryan was interested in aviation, but his interest in using his degree within another industry called to him more.
Through hard work, perseverance and focus on his goal, he has been able to cross into the automotive industry and successfully utilize his ERAU MBA degree to pursue his career passion.
As an alumnus of the MBA program at ERAU Daytona Beach, tell us how you ended up in the automotive industry and what you like the most about your current position/company.
Working in the automotive industry has been a life long goal. My very first job began as an entrepreneur, and it involved starting my own car detailing business. As time progressed I held various positions with several motorcycle dealers, including BMW, Ducati, Honda and Triumph. During my time at ERAU, I worked as a graduate assistant with the EcoCAR program as an outreach coordinator, which was sponsored jointly by GM and the Department of Energy. The EcoCAR program gave me a great deal of insight into the difficulties of engineering a hybrid vehicle along with exposure to media highlights such as meeting Federal Congressman John Mica.
Immediately following my time with EcoCAR, I was selected to join BMW Manufacturing for a 6-month internship and worked for the Human Resources department while specializing in Technical Training. The highlight of this position was being surrounded by major manufacturing, German culture, and being able to drive camouflaged prototypes that other people dream of even seeing.
All of the positions mentioned above helped to open the doors for a job at American Honda Motors as a Sales Analyst. My favorite part about this position is having the ability to see exactly how vehicles are sold and marketed from the factory, regional, or field level. Another great part about this position is being able to meet unique Honda Dealer Principals; one for example has a family history in automotive racing. The general public goes into a dealership and has no perception of how much effort and coordination it takes, months in advance, to make it all work. Honda developed this position to help entry associates gain essential skills and knowledge before becoming a District Sales Manager. Obtaining a role that contains a diverse portfolio of training and encourages questions is exactly what I require to further develop a solid foundation in the automotive industry.
As your career positions have been in a typically non-traditional industry for Embry-Riddle alumni, how did your ERAU degree prepare you to be successful in this industry?
ERAU gave me a unique insight to the world of aviation and the complexities of that business. While a class may have focused specifically on Boeing vs. Airbus, I was always thinking in terms of automotive companies like GM vs. Toyota. Aviation and the automotive industry have similar fundamentals. They all require engineering, design, manufacturing, logistics, product planning and sales/marketing to name a few. ERAU prepared me to think of the corporation as a whole and conversely on an international level. Instead of load factor per flight per day, I am now thinking in terms of vehicle sales per dealer per day. While the labels may have changed, the task and objective remain the same: maximize sales to remain competitive.
During my studies some of the courses actually had case studies within the automotive industry which were beneficial, and if they didn’t, I would be the student who always would try to make the problem fit into the automotive industry. I still recall an instance where Lamborghini was working with Boeing on new composite structures, both for their upcoming products that were being developed. Even though an Italian supercar has very little in common with a several hundred passenger aircraft, there is still a connection; you just need to look closely.
A degree from ERAU prepared me in too many ways to list, even my 65 hours of flight training helps with understanding some vehicle dynamics. However, it is the combination of my degree and the applied experiences that have led to my success in this industry.
What advice do you have for a current MBA student, that would help them after graduation?
Start applying for internships, graduate assistantships and part-time jobs during your first semester. While I was fortunate to have an amazing 6-month internship at BMW Manufacturing, I waited too long and missed the opportunity to have a second one. The key is to take the initiative and apply right away. Secondly, if you have a passion for a certain field or company, look at all of your options. For example, I had to apply to BMW North America and BMW Manufacturing separately. You want as much experience as you can obtain before you start applying for a permanent position, so do not sit idle and expect to be handed a job. Another piece of advice would be to not rely on anyone but you. I had several reliable connections that fell through along with many of my colleagues, and that was of course very discouraging. Never give up and always keep looking ahead.