Daniel Gaglia knows the wishes and expectations of our Canadian customers very well. As a product manager in Canada, he ensures that everything runs smoothly when our latest models are launched - and that the vehicles offer exactly the features that buyers in his home country expect from Mercedes-Benz. In his interview, the product manager tells us why his fascination for cars has little to do with speed, what excites him most at Mercedes-Benz and why personal contacts are often just as important as statistics in his job.
Mr Gaglia, what special requirements do customers in Canada have when buying a vehicle?
Please, call me Daniel. And in response to your question: that is clearly 4MATIC. In Canada we usually have cold and long winters, so we need four-wheel drive on the roads. And heated seats and a heated steering wheel must also be part of the package (laughs). But these are just some of the preferences we observe among our customers. We work with our global product management colleagues to tailor new model series to ensure that no wishes remain unfulfilled. In this way, we are also strongly shaping the way Mercedes-Benz is perceived in Canada. In a nutshell: we take our global model series and sprinkle a little "Canadian Magic" on them (laughs). For example, we are currently working on the launch of the new Mercedes-AMG SL, a true icon that offers not only elegance but also comfort and sporty driving dynamics.
How do you and your team go about preparing the "go live" for a new model series in Canada?
It all starts during the development process, often several years before a vehicle is launched in the market. We then consult closely with our colleagues from the global product management teams about which technologies and features are particularly important for our market. And shortly before the vehicle premiere, it is time for the fine-tuning. From all the options, we put together model variants of our luxurious vehicles that fit the demands of the market. At the same time, we must analyze the price point at which to introduce the vehicle. Further, we decide which equipment packages will be available, which technology comes as standard and what we offer as optional extras. Or what options there will be for paintwork, interior and rims.
How do you know so well which requirements Mercedes-Benz vehicles have to meet in Canada?
We - and all other markets, of course - undertake comprehensive market studies for this purpose. For me, personal contacts also play an important role. Especially when it comes to new technologies, such as digital solutions, which are often not so widely known about, classic surveys are of little help. In our team, we have close links to the salespeople in the car dealerships who meet and advise our customers every day. And when I'm out and about and meet people who are interested in one of our models, I sometimes speak to them personally. This often provides me with very valuable insights.
How can we picture your team?
There are seven of us on my team: that is our National Manager as the direct supervisor, three Product Managers including myself, one Junior Product Manager, one Specialist, and one Intern. Each one of us is responsible for a number of models. I currently look after the E-Class, CLS, GLE, GLS, G-Class, AMG GT and the new SL model series. The team dynamics are great, and we all have different backgrounds: one colleague is an engineer, another has a marketing background and one comes from the retail network. What connects us is our passion for cars - and not just professionally.
So you are also a car enthusiast in your private life?
Definitely. Cars and their design have interested me since I was a child, and I have always been amazed by the latest models. Today I have two personal vehicles at home, one of which I reserve for summer weekends. What fascinates me most about cars is not the speed in particular, but that each vehicle has its own special character.
When I see my ideas become reality, and the way a special model of our GLE excites people, then that is just a great feeling.
What brought you to Mercedes-Benz?
That was shortly after I graduated. I studied business at York University in Toronto. A lot of people I know work in the finance industry, which is why I first started working for a financial services provider after graduating. I soon realised that I didn't want to do this job all my life. I wanted to do something that suited me, preferably something with cars ...
... so you applied to Mercedes-Benz?
Almost! I then worked briefly for a different car manufacturer in the finance area. But there I only booked invoices and had hardly any contact with the product. At some point I discovered the job posting in the product management department at Mercedes-Benz. Although I had no marketing experience, I applied and managed to show my passion for all things automotive during my interviews. Shortly after, I started working with my current team.
What is special about Mercedes-Benz as an employer?
Of course, it is cool to work for a luxury brand like Mercedes-Benz, which focuses on design as well as innovative and sustainable technologies. Moreover, the atmosphere here is amazing. The colleagues are great and we recently moved into a new building with state-of-the-art digital equipment and flexible workplaces. It is also great that I have a lot of freedom in my job and that I can express my creativity to the fullest.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It is exciting to see the model series I look after 'live' on the road. I can make a real difference with my work. When I see my ideas become reality and observe how a special model of our GLE, for example, excites people, then that is just a great feeling.
Finally, a more personal question: Who in your family or circle of friends would most likely deserve a prize - and which one?
That is clearly my mother - she definitely deserves an honorary award. She has a mantra, a motto for life, which she has quoted to me almost every day since I was a child: "If you don’t plan, you plan to fail". Her words have left their mark on me. By the way, they still help me now in my job as a product manager.
Daniel Gaglia (28) has been fascinated by cars since he was a child. And while his father wanted to get him excited about his favourite sport, hockey, Daniel preferred to polish up his model cars. He later decided to study business administration at York University in his home city of Toronto, Canada. After completing his studies, he initially started working in the finance sector - until he finally joined Mercedes-Benz in 2015 and turned his passion for cars into a career here. Today, when he is not working as a product manager to ensure that the latest Mercedes-Benz model series deliver everything that Canadian customers wish for, he can be found cruising in one of his two cars - or in the gym. For him, a good start to the day includes a great morning workout.