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Real Times Media is excited to announce the return of the award winning “DRIVEN Experience,” presented by Real Times Media for its seventh year. Held during press week of The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), DRIVEN celebrates diversity within the automotive industry and recognizes the men and women of color who are making significant contributions and achieving high levels of professional success in their respective auto-related fields. We are expecting nearly 1,000 industry professionals to attend the DRIVEN Experience. This year’s industry specific event will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 11 at the Garden Theater in Detroit. Fox 2 News reporter Roop Raj will serve the master of ceremonies for the second year.

“We are very pleased to bring the DRIVEN Experience back for the 7th year,” said Hiram E. Jackson, chief executive officer of Real Times Media. “We look forward to sharing the colorful and inspirational stories of success from the industry’ top ranking automotive executives. DRIVEN is a must-attend event for any industry professional looking to network and stay connected to happenings in the industry.”

Early on, Lear Corporation was announced as the 2017 corporate chair.

“We are honored to welcome President, Chief Executive Officer and Director Matt Simoncini and Lear Corporation as the corporate co-chair for the 7th edition of DRIVEN,” said Jackson. “As we celebrate multicultural achievement within the automotive industry we are pleased to have a corporate co-chair that has a proven record of embracing diversity and inclusion. Lear, was recently recognized by the Billion Dollar Roundtable for spending $1 billion with minority owned companies, a tremendous feat.  Lear’s investment of building an Innovation and Design Center in the heart of Detroit demonstrates their commitment to the future of Detroit. Their civic and charitable involvement in the metro Detroit area and around the world speaks volumes to their corporate value system. We are honored to have their support this year.”

Simoncini stated, “Lear Corporation is honored to serve as the corporate co-chair of this year’s DRIVEN event. At Lear, valuing diversity and inclusion is one of our core values.  We truly believe diversity makes us a stronger company, and we are proud to partner with Real Times Media in celebrating multicultural achievement within the automotive industry.”

DRIVEN has tapped two well-respected leaders in the automotive industry to be a part of the event’s 7th edition publication. President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK), Wilbert W. James, Jr. will write the foreword, and Ramzi Hermiz, president and chief executive officer of Michigan based Shiloh Industries, Inc. will write the introduction.

“Both of these gentlemen are innovators in the industry and have a proven track record of embracing diversity and inclusion. We look forward to sharing their stories of triumph along the way and how they have managed to impact the industry in so many ways,” said Jackson.

James is the seventh president of TMMK. He leads Toyota’s largest automotive manufacturing plant in the world which produces the Camry, America’s best-selling car; Avalon, and the ES 350, the only U.S.-produced Lexus.  Additionally, James champions quality initiatives for Toyota’s 14 North American manufacturing plants.

James’ career with Toyota began in 1987, supervising a team of about 20 people. He has since served in senior leadership positions at three of Toyota’s U.S. plants, including TMMK, a $6 billion operation that directly employs nearly 8,000 people. Before being announced as president in 2010, James served as senior vice president for Manufacturing and Quality at Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana facility.

Shiloh Industries, Inc. is a global innovative solutions provider to the automotive and commercial vehicle industries. Since joining Shiloh in 2012, Hermiz has transformed the regional automotive supplier into a $1.1 billion global company with a strategic focus on designing, engineering and manufacturing lightweight technologies that improve performance, reduce noise and vibration, and benefit the environment.

During his tenure, Hermiz has rebranded the company, now recognized as a global technology leader, by expanding the company’s customer base, growing its manufacturing footprint from nine North American plants to 28 operations, sales and technical centers throughout Asia, Europe and North America, and more than doubling its employee and revenue base.

Through the years, DRIVEN has highlighted the accomplishments of the automotive industry’s most well-respected and high-ranking executives. As they share their personal stories of success we realized there was one common thread amongst all of the honorees; an exposure and interest in science, technology, engineering and math early on. A survey conducted by STEM connector showed one out of four high school freshman indicated an interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The study also showed that 57 percent of freshman lost interest in STEM-related careers before their senior year. The decline in interest was mainly due to students being unable to make the connection between course-related work ando real world experience and career paths.

This year, in partnership with DAPCEP, DRIVEN has extended the traditional programming by hosting a STEM career symposium, where students will have access to automotive professionals who specifically used their love for STEM to discover their dream job within the automotive industry. Students will have the opportunity to ask career-related questions and through this interaction will be inspired to continue exploring the world of STEM. The DRIVEN Youth Symposium will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 9:30 am to 2 pm at the Michigan Science Center in Detroit.

“It is important that we expose our youth to careers they may not even know exist. The DRIVEN symposium is a tremendous opportunity for students and we believe will encourage and inspire the next the generation of automotive influencers. We thank our lead sponsors, Lear Corporation and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), for lending their support to make this symposium possible,” said Jackson.

DRIVEN 2017 promises to be an evening of celebration and distinction showcasing trailblazers and emerging leaders. For the second year, Real Times Media will honor individuals that have made a tremendous impact on the industry.

In years past, DRIVEN has welcomed world-class talent such as Cedric the Entertainer, Anthony Anderson, MC Lyte and Jermaine Dupri and this year will be no different.  Famed DJ Biz Markie will host the afterglow. With more than 30 years of solid hip-hop acumen and an overwhelming fan-base that stretches from New York to Japan, appearances on such popular TV shows such as “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and “The Jimmy Kimmel Show,” DJ Biz Markie will perform greatest hits such as “Just a Friend” and “Vapors.”

Admission to the DRIVEN Experience is complimentary but those wishing to attend must RSVP by visiting http://www.michiganchonicle.com and clicking on the events tab.

For more information, please call (313) – 963-8100.

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