Oakland adds student chapter of Society of Automotive Analysts

By Ali DeRees

It is well known that Detroit is home of the automotive industry and Oakland County the home of Automation Alley. Oakland University is now home to a student chapter of the Society of Automotive Analysts (SAA.)

SAA is an organization comprised of industry leaders and innovators focused on networking, discussing ideas and data and predicting trends.

Senior and Finance major Josh Yasoni was previously involved in the Society of Automotive Engineers at OU and thought there should be a more business-focused organization involved in the automotive industry.

“It seemed kind of silly not having one,” Yasoni said.

Yasoni said the organization will be doing a lot of hands-on things, such as going to automotive conferences and the Detroit Auto Show as well.

“We are focused on the industry now and in the future,” he said.

Yasoni said he and the founding members of the group went to Associate Professor of Marketing in the School of Business Administration, Janell Townsend, for help in making connections in the auto industry. She in turn became the faculty adviser to the student chapter.

Townsend holds a doctorate in marketing and international business. She explained how the auto industry is not just important in the United States.

“You have to understand the global marketplace,” Townsend said.

She said she is very excited to help with an organization that is connected outside of the university.

“It’s one thing to have a student organization, but it’s another to be connected to a professional organization,” Townsend said.

These kind of connections are valuable for not only the students, but for the industry itself.

“The key to any industry is that there’s connections with education and government,” Townsend said.

The organization held its first event at Meadow Brook Hall, which included a walking dinner and discussion of Oakland County’s Connected Infrastructure Initiative. The event was co-sponsored by SAA and OU’s Graduate Business Leaders.

Key speakers at the event included Sheryl Connelly, who works in Global Trends and Futuring at Ford Motor Company, and Chairman of the Oakland County Connected Car Initiative, Fred Nader.

Townsend said she hopes this organization will spark more interest in the auto industry within the student body.

“How do we get people interested in the industry? How do we get to kids? How do we get to the best of the best?” Townsend said.

The student chapter of SAA is looking for new members. Interested students may email Yasoni at [email protected] for more information.