Asian American Professionals Worth Knowing



Profession: Senior Corporate Executive
Birthplace: Port Elgin, Canada
Position: President and Managing Director of GM do Brasil

anaging the finances of the world's largest industrial company before the age of 40 is pretty good preparation for Ray G. Young's current post: President and Managing Director of GM do Brasil, General Motors's third-largest manufacturing operation. At 42, Young remains securely on what may be the steepest career path in the American corporate world.
     The fast-track seems to have been Young's path since his family immigrated to Canada from Guangzhou, China. In high school he set academic records which have yet to be broken. Between studies and helping parents at their restaurant, dates were scarce. Passing up admissions from top universities, he chose the University of Western Ontario for its business program, considered Canada's best. Upon graduation Young rejected tempting job offers to attend business school at the University of Chicago.
     With an MBA in hand, Young turned down many high-salaried positions at banks and investment firms to start as an entry-level financial analyst for GM in 1986. His goals required that he work for a large corporation. The gamble paid off within two years when he was promoted and transferred to GM's financial headquarters in New York.
     "I often worked until 2 in the morning," Young recalls of those early years, "because I worried that if I slowed down a pace, IĠd fall behind."


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     Four years later, Young was rewarded again with a promotion to director of capital markets and foreign exchange services. A year later, at the age of 31, he was sent to Belgium to become treasurer for GM Europe. Three years later, he was named vice president of finances for CAMI, a Canadian joint venture between GM and Suzuki. In 1998 Young was tapped to serve as GM's liaison at Suzuki, a company in which GM had taken a 10% stake as part of its strategy to build its Asia-Pacific presence. It was a sensitive post that challenged and proved out Young's interpersonal skills. In 2001 he was rewarded with the post of GM North America's vice president and chief financial officer, along with a seat on the North American Strategy Board. At 39, Young was the youngest executive ever to control the financial strategy of the $120 billion giant. It required overseeing a staff of 1,000 finance professionals.
     Young attributes his remarkable success to good personal relations, networking, luck and perpetual hard work. In his free time he enjoys cooking, dining and traveling with his English-born wife.

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