Open Doors, Open Minds
Kimberly Murry’s office at Cosma Body Assembly in Michigan has three doors, including one that leads to the shop floor where workers are doing robotic welding on underbody rail assemblies for the Chevrolet Bolt, Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave.
The three doors embody Magna’s Open Door Policy, and the accessibility of this human resources manager.
“With the Employee Opinion Survey and the Open Door Policy, we really listen to employees and take action,” Murry said. “Employees have a voice in things, so they work harder and make this company what it is.”
Also unique to this plant is the requirement that all salaried employees must work a job on the shop floor for a minimum of eight hours so that they can understand the workforce. As part of her assignment, Murry put on steel-toed shoes and spent time welding parts with the robotics team.
“I had to be trained,” she said. “You see what it’s like for the people on the shop floor – and they see you. Everybody then realizes it’s not ‘us-them.’ We’re in it together. It’s an eye-opener. I never worked on the line before in any other automotive HR job I’ve had.”
Murry’s lengthy HR resume includes a 17-year stint at a major Detroit automaker, where she worked on a variety of assignments in domestic and foreign locations, from a sprawling Midwestern manufacturing plant to 2-1/2 years in South Korea.?
Employees have a voice in things, so they work harder and make this company what it is.Kim Murry
She also worked for a Chinese auto supplier in Michigan and spent three years at a Magna Seating plant before taking up her current position.
“I found that people are going to make assumptions based on gender, race and age, not knowing where you come from or what you are capable of doing,” Murry said. “But the one thing that always worked for me is I have a work ethic and brains – and I know how to talk to people.”?
She points to a magnetic button on her office bulletin board that reads: “Underestimate me. That’ll be fun.”
Building bridges between cultures is a priority for Murry, who grew up in Detroit and earned an MBA from Lawrence Technological University. During her South Korea assignment, Murry found that something as simple as sharing a meal reaps rewards.
“We would go out as a team and there would be a big table filled with food,” she recalled. “My attitude was, I will find something on the table that I like and eat a lot of it, even if I didn’t know what it was. And, for a minute, my Korean colleagues would forget that I was a foreigner. I blended in. My whole goal was to build trust within the team. It’s so much easier to get work done when people trust you.”
Murry calls herself “fearless, adaptable, creative” and “never afraid to try something new.” Always entrepreneurially minded, she left the auto industry for two years in 2014 to open a bridal boutique.?
“I learned a lot about relationships,” she said. “You can go anywhere to buy a gown, so word-of-mouth becomes really important. I got customers one at time.”
Her 16-year-old daughter Kendall helped out at the shop and sometimes assists her mom in putting together employee appreciation baskets for Magna employees.
“I tell her she’s smart enough to do anything,” Murry said. “I told her that before she could talk. I always tell her that skills and education equal options.”