John Stadwick, 1983, B.B.A., came to SVSU in 1978 as a student-athlete. A member of the track team, John was a three-time All American and part of the 1982 and 1983 Men’s Indoor National Track Championship team. Today, he serves as vice president of Shanghai-GM Automobile Co. Ltd., (Shanghai-GM) and vice president of sales, service and marketing for General Motors China.
Lessons learned as a student-athlete helped him achieve success in his professional career.
“On the track team, everybody had different specialties, different strengths,” John said. “We learned to leverage them. This translates into the working world where you identify and leverage individuals’ strengths to build a winning team.”
A native of Harrison Township near Detroit, John chose SVSU because the university was building a nationally-recognized track and cross country program.
“When I was in high school, I received a recruitment package from [track coach] Dr. [Doug] Hansen,” explained John. “I wanted to continue running track and cross country in college, and SVSU seemed to be a good fit.”
Not only was SVSU a good fit for the college freshman, it was a good place to “grow up.” “Going to college is [often] the first time you live away from home,” John said. “So it’s a big growth time emotionally, physically and psychologically. SVSU provided a positive environment for my growth and development. Those years were very influential in providing me with a solid foundation that I use in decision-making every day of my life.
“A couple of great coaches — Ed Skrelunas and Doug Hansen — acted as mentors to a bunch of young men and women,” John said. “They instilled some pretty good values: integrity, trust, dedication and teamwork. These helped me in my career, especially as I work around the world. You have to build trust; your colleagues need to believe in you, and you need to believe in them.”
John’s road to success has taken him across the country and around the world. After earning his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1983, he joined the district manager-in-training program at GM’s Oldsmobile division in Lansing. Working for a global company, John realized there were many opportunities outside of southeast Michigan.
His career has taken him from New York to California and points in between. In the late 1990s, John left Oldsmobile to join GM’s corporate office. His first overseas opportunity came in 2004, when he moved to Mexico as director for General Motors Service Parts Operation for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
By that time, John and his wife, Andrea, had three children. The move to Mexico gave them all a broader perspective on the world.
“When we moved to Mexico, my daughter participated in a United Nations event with kids from all over the world,” John recalled. “They talked about global politics and shared personal perspectives. My kids’ experiences really made them global citizens.”
Although John hadn’t experienced international travel as a student, he said his experience at SVSU helped prepare him for life abroad.
“Reflecting back, my first roommate was a kid who grew up in Greece,” John said. “Lou Iordanou and I became best friends and are still friends. That was my first exposure to a different culture and language.
“Being on the track and cross country teams taught me how to adapt and adjust to people from diverse backgrounds. I didn’t realize I was even learning those lessons, but they came into play later.”
While in Mexico, John learned to speak Spanish, which led to an appointment as regional director of aftersales for GM Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. In 2009, he accepted the position of vice president of aftersales for GM International Operations in Shanghai. In 2010, John became president and managing director of General Motors Middle East Operations, based in Dubai.
John’s success earned the attention of Evo Middle East, a leading auto publication, which named him “2011 Man of the Year.” In 2013, Forbes Middle East included John on its “Global Meets Local” list of top influential leaders of global corporations’ regional operations.
Late last fall, John once again packed up his office and returned to Shanghai.
John credits his experience at SVSU as a positive influence and essential in the development of his successful life and career. Because of that, he supports the university.
“I’m not sure I’d be where I am if I had not gone to SVSU,” he said. “I believe in giving back. I want to make sure other students have the same opportunities that were available to me.”
As for his many moves around the world, John credits his wife.
“When traveling and relocating around the world, you need strong support from your spouse,” John says. “My wife has moved our family multiple times. I could not have done it without her.”
The road from SVSU to Shanghai has been interesting for John Stadwick, and he’s eager to see where it takes him next, and so is SVSU.