Ed Welburn
Vice President, Global Design at General Motors, Designer, Sculptor
 
About the Innovator

Edward T. Welburn, Jr. began drawing cars around the age of three while growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  By the age of eight, Welburn told his parents that he wanted to design cars for General Motors (GM) after seeing a Cadillac Cyclone concept car on display at the Philadelphia International Auto Show.  After that moment, Welburn's ambition motivated him to write to GM asking what he needed to do to become a car designer.  Surprisingly, GM wrote back with helpful suggestions which influenced Welburn's decision to attend Howard University.

In 1972, Welburn graduated from the College of Fine Arts at Howard University with a bachelor's degree in sculpture and product design.  In that same year, his dream became a reality as GM hired him as an associate designer at their Design Center in the Advanced Design Studios.  From that point on, Welburn began his ascent through the company, collaborating with others to design Buicks, Oldsmobiles, and other GM brands.

Today, Welburn is GM's Vice President, Global Design, leading the company's ten global design centers.  He is only the sixth design leader in GM's history following the likes of Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell.

Why He Innovates

Welburn’s passion for cars allows him to tackle the challenges he faces in a rapidly changing industry. As the global design lead at GM, he and his team of designers collaborate with engineers to design and create appealing vehicles that fit the needs of millions of people across the world. Under his watch, many vehicles received Car of the Year awards like the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro and one of the most innovative being the electric-powered 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

The Complete Interview from
Ed Welburn

In a highly competitive car market, Welburn believes "design is that great differentiator between one product and another." In order to get the most out of his designers, he encourages friendly competition between different design teams.  Welburn's ability to motivate and effectively manage multiple teams from different countries helps GM maintain its reputation as one of the top car manufacturers in the world.


Watch the Complete Interview
Download the Interview Transcript (PDF)
 

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