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Joshua Walton

Operations Leader, Vehicle Testing
General Motors Canada
Joshua Walton derrière le volant d'un véhicule à l'essai.

Joshua Walton behind the wheel of a test vehicle.

Joshua Walton derrière le volant d'un véhicule à l'essai.

Joshua Walton behind the wheel of a test vehicle.

Indigenous

I oversee the day-to-day operations of GM’s testing facility to make sure our vehicles can withstand the most extreme cold weather conditions.

About me

I was born/grew up in:  I was born in Oshawa, Ontario, and grew up in the Blackstock area.

I now live in:  I relocated to Kapuskasing, Ontario in the fall of 2015.

I completed my training/education at: Durham College – Computer and Network Systems Engineering

University of Phoenix – Bachelor of Science, Information Technology

What I do at work

I oversee the day-to-day operations of GM’s Kapuskasing Proving Ground. This is the largest full-scale cold weather development facility in Ontario. We test everything from full-size pickup trucks to electric vehicles of the future. Our team evaluates 95 per cent of GM North American vehicles to make sure they can withstand the most extreme cold weather conditions. I also have the unique opportunity to work on future technologies and innovations before they become reality.

I love the diversity of work in my day-to-day activities. I get to lead construction projects as well as design infrastructure to support next generation testing and validation. I get to collaborate with an outstanding team that’s designing and refining cars of the future. I also get to create new and innovative ways to move our business forward. Best of all, I get to immerse myself in all things automotive!

You can often find me troubleshooting electrical issues or programming cars. Or I might be developing solutions to ensure our vehicles can withstand the most intense cold weather environments.

Locally, I am the electric vehicle trainer. I teach our engineering groups how to service and provide support in the fast-changing EV space. I am a hands-on leader. I love being on the shop floor, or out in the field with my team, coming up with solutions. I use skills from my IT background in my work. These skills include data analysis, pattern identification, project management, and systematic troubleshooting techniques. I make use of these skills every day in my current role.

Communication is critical in my job! The more effectively we can communicate, the quicker we can react and solve little issues before they become BIG issues. Luckily, we have a very flexible and mobile team in Kapuskasing. As a result, we can move quickly when trouble does arise.

My career path is

Ever since my first computer (Commodore 64), I’ve always found electronics and computers fascinating. I was largely self-taught in my early years. I played with an electronics breadboard and constructed progressively more complex circuits. By the time I was in High School, I owned a small computer business. I serviced both home and small businesses. I had a focused on building network/telecom infrastructure.

I landed my dream job early in my career when I became the Network Infrastructure Lead at General Motors. But when that happens, you have to ask “where would I go from here?” Luckily there has been a shift to embrace tech in the transportation industry. This change, coupled with my passion for all things automotive, gave me an opportunity to leave “IT” and pursue a role as a Test Engineer. With the rise of technology in cars, my passion and my skillset finally aligned! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be leading the Kapuskasing Proving Ground – the largest full-scale cold weather development facility in Ontario – but this became a reality in January 2019.

I am motivated by

I get to work on new and emerging technologies that no one has ever experienced before. We are reimaging the products we currently have. We aim not to see things as they are, but as they can be: all-electric and self-driven. The way we have evolved as a company over the last five years is awe-inspiring.

I wake up excited to embrace every day! Each day presents new challenges, new innovations, and new products. It’s inspiring to know that we’re all working as one team across the globe to achieve a common goal: a better world for future generations.

Technology, and future products aside, the single most rewarding aspect of my job is the people. At GM, we are not just co-workers, but we are friends and mentors. In many cases, we are extended family. We look out for each other and love seeing our peers grow and evolve. This is a work mentality that is truly inspirational for high performance teams!

This position is a perfect fit for me given its diversity as well as my love of cold weather and snow. I love the way my team and I can enact change through our relentless pursuit of quality. We view issues through the eyes of our customers, and genuinely “get it”.

How I affect people’s lives

At General Motors, our vision is of a world with Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions and Zero Congestion. In product development, we have the power to create that change. Through our validation process, we work with early prototype parts, software, complete vehicles, and engineering resources around the globe. We identify where things are lacking and provide solutions. Ultimately, we build world class products that excite and inspire our customers.

I find it rewarding to see production vehicles that I’ve spent countless hours working on as a prototype, in people’s driveways, at the grocery store, or rolling down the highway. It brings me great pride knowing the tireless efforts that have gone into the pre-production of that vehicle. I’m proud of the changes I’ve personally played a role in. This is especially true when those changes are things that return people home safe to their families, every day.

Outside of work I

I enjoy being involved in my community. I am currently the Vice-President of the Northern Corridor Du Nord (District 15, OFSC). I am a Director on the board of the Kap Sno-Rovers, groomer operator, and Firearms Section Trainer and Range Safety Officer for the Kap Rod and Gun Club. I love the outdoors! I am into off grid camping, canoeing, and photography. I enjoy working the restoration of motorcycles and automobiles.

My advice to others

Reach for your dreams, and never let anything stand in your way. Your biggest hurdles in life are the limitations you set in your own mind. Find something of interest and immerse yourself in it. Get involved in your community through volunteerism. There are so many opportunities around you to learn and expand your breadth of knowledge and experience.

I am indigenous

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Business & Economics
  • Computer Science
  • Industrial Arts/Shop Programs
  • Literature and Language Arts
  • Indigenous Studies
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Math
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Always wanted to be outside
  • Liked helping people
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Was motivated by success
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Learned best "by doing"
  • Always knew exactly what I wanted to do
  • Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
  • Liked to take things apart to see how they worked
  • Engaged in activities such as fishing and berry picking

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