Sold on the auto care industry: Spotlight on Donny Braga
As brand marketing manager for Wakefield Canada, Donny Braga knows all about building engagement and interest around a company and its products. That is something he wants to bring to the Young Professionals in the Aftermarket (YPA) Committee – marketing the committee as the source of knowledge for up and coming auto care professionals.
Brand marketing manager – PCMO (Passenger Car Motor Oil), Wakefield Canada
Years in the automotive aftermarket industry: 15 years
How long have you worked in the automotive industry?
For a total of 15 years, four in the United States and 12 years in Canada. I worked in the United States from 2016 through 2019.
What company do you currently work for? What is your position?
I am currently with Wakefield Canada, in the role of brand marketing manager – PCMO (Passenger Car Motor Oil), managing the Castrol family of brands.
This is a new role for me as of December 2022. I joined Wakefield Canada in December of 2021 as the Marketing Innovation and Super Clean Brand Manager. In that time, I guess they liked what I was doing for the Super Clean brand and with my brand experience at other companies, they wanted to give me the Castrol family of brands to manage
Where did you attend school? What is the highest level of education?
I received my Project Management Professional designation from the Project Management Institute and have a Bachelor of Commerce from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Did you know you wanted to work in the automotive aftermarket?
Getting into the automotive aftermarket just sort of happened. I had always wanted to be either a paramedic (from my lifeguarding days) or a marketer because of the fun, creative and dynamic nature of the role. I was sure of that. After working for several years in the marketing department at Molson Coors, I got a call from a headhunter about an opportunity that ITW Permatex had to join their team as their marketing manager. This was just after ITW had acquired the Spray Nine brand. In my time with them, I was part of the acquisition team for several key automotive brands, including Rain-X, Spray Nine, Slime Tire Sealant, Fix-A-Flat and Black Magic.
How long have you been part of the Young Professionals in the Aftermarket (YPA) Committee?
About eight months.
What does your participation in the Young Professionals in the Aftermarket (YPA) Committee mean to you?
To me, being part of the YPA community means that I do more than just work in the industry—I am part of the industry. I stay connected to what is happening and what might happen in the future. Being a part of this community gives me the opportunity to collaborate, bounce ideas, and get suggestions and advice from my industry peers.
What would you like to see us as a committee achieve in years to come?
For me, as a marketing and salesperson, I would like to see if the YPA and AIA Canada can figure out a way to help industry marketers and sales individuals learn more about the evolving technology around hybrids, EVs and digital integration in vehicles. I would like us to be able to provide a high-level resource for people in the industry where they can learn about these technologies and take that knowledge back to their own companies to help with the R&D and innovation of their own future product offerings.
Have you had an industry mentor? If so, who and why?
I have had the privilege of working for some great individuals, however Rob Whittaker, the business unit manager for ITW Global Brands Canada (Formally ITW Permatex Canada) stands out. He has played a huge role in my professional career. He mentored me in the way I analyze problems and potential solutions, challenged norms, and lead by example, always pushing himself and his team. Following his leadership is how I lead today.
Even though it has been several years since I worked for Rob, to this day, we still stay in close contact, and I am forever grateful for his coaching and mentorship.
What is one of your proudest moments in your career so far?
I cannot just pick one to be completely honest, but here are two that stand out.
In my early career, I was part of the innovation team that created Molson Cold Shots. Almost 20 years later, this product is still being offered at beer and liquor stores near you.
The growth of the Spray Nine brand. When ITW purchased it, it was a smaller, regional brand with little brand awareness. We managed to grow awareness in Canada and, due to that success, took it to the American market. We rebuilt the brand there, getting listings at national auto retailers and, ultimately, at Walmart US.
What is one of the biggest and/or most difficult lessons you have had to learn as a young professional?
As a young professional, it is important to stay grounded, listen and learn as much as possible about the business, industry, products, and customers. Take time to discuss situations and options with your colleagues. It is important to understand that business is a team effort. No single department or person will help the company succeed. Drop department silos and have lunch with colleagues in different departments, take the time to learn what they do and how it impacts the business, because that knowledge will come in handy.
What advice would you give someone either starting in the industry or looking to transition into the industry?
Early in my career, I was taught that it is easier to edit than create. So, for young professionals, do not be offended or upset if people critique your work or make suggestions. Instead, learn, grow and continue learning for each experience.
A few last fun questions to get to know you better.
Make and model of your first car?
2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT
What are you terrible at, but love to do anyway?
Playing hockey – I learned to play as an adult.
What is the best professional development book you have ever read?
Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson
What is your favorite way to spend a day off?
Riding my motorcycle and visiting friends and family.
Where is the next place on your travel bucket list?
A European cruise.
About Wakefield Canada
Wakefield Canada Inc. is an industry leading Canadian company that manufactures, distributes and markets category-leading products for the automotive, commercial heavy-duty, and industrial markets including Castrol, the #1 brand of passenger car motor oil in Canada, and the “Super Clean” cleaner-degreaser brand.
Find out more about careers at Wakefield Canada.
About the Young Professionals in the Aftermarket Committee
Young Professionals in the Aftermarket (YPA) is an Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada) committee comprising of young executives, of 45 years or younger, in the Canadian auto care sector. The Committee’s mandate is to ensure the future growth and prosperity of the aftermarket industry.