Faces: Trevin Dye of JETRO

Inclusion and Automotives: How networking skills enliven automotive and bring Millennials together

Trevin Dye’s resume is extensive, to say the least. His diverse skillset includes being fluent in several languages and classically trained on the piano; his experiences include spending three years in Japan teaching English to high school students.

Southern Automotive Alliance Magazine FACES: Trevin Dye January 12, 2019 Photo credit: Henri Hollis

“My motto is really just to be everywhere and shrink the world with the skills you have,” he says. It’s been this credo that has driven the Atlanta native for most of his life, and is what he credits for his many accomplishments.

Dye is the assistant director of international business development for the Japanese External Trade Organization (JETRO), a job that allows him to flex his social skills, he says. “That’s really been one of my biggest assets, I think, because everyone is in such diverse international circles,” he explains. “I’m able to, I think, [do] more to help people on the business side and in my office accomplish things that they wouldn’t normally be able to accomplish.”

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JETRO originally began as a public relations sector of the Japanese government to help promote Japanese owned businesses in the United States after World War II. Today the organization has 74 offices including Atlanta, located in 54 countries around the world, and focuses on promoting possible opportunities in Japan for various businesses. “Our Atlanta office covers Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida and this year they just added Tennessee and North Carolina,” says Dye. As of 2017, JETRO was the first international presence at the Southern Automotive Conference and Dye says their involvement in the conference was “well received.”

“We started a JETRO International Business Matching booth to try and help Japanese companies present their products to local companies here and form local relationships because most of them do not know the south east very well,” Dye explains. “With the presence of so many automotive conferences in the south east we’re seeing a trend where local companies want local contacts. They don’t necessarily need to go to Japan as much, at least in the automotive industry, so we decided to start a business matching program and that’s kind of what that conference represented.”

The decision to form a relationship with the Southern Automotive Conference was not a hard one to make. As Dye says, it was “difficult to ignore the automotive industry.” One thing that has become apparent to JETRO, and Dye, is the lack of communication as far as human resources and skill-set training goes.

“One of the big things we’ve seen on the automotive side in particular, and we’ve heard this everywhere, is in terms of [human resources] and training, that’s one of the most difficult things to address in the automotive industry right now for Japanese companies and really for international companies in general,” he says. “There are a lot of jobs available but you know, how do we train high level staff and engineers to fill those jobs? So, we thought, well the manufacturing is one side or one piece of it but there’s also an HR piece that the American companies should be aware of from the Japanese companies. Or the American companies can also talk about their needs. We need training programs and funding to help train students or millennials early on and that’s what JETRO has been focusing on a little more from the automotive standpoint.”

To Dye, it all comes back to communicating with people on what they need. Growing up, he says, he was a “social butterfly popular kid” but never ran with one specific group of people. “I never really had a circle. I was popular because I moved around to all circles. So, it always made me uncomfortable to see someone who was alienated…that whole idea of bringing people into a circle that’s unfamiliar to them or if they’re awkward or whatever, I think that’s always been part of my mentality and that’s what’s driven me to learn languages and travel as much as possible,” he says.

That mentality has continued to play into his work with JETRO and other various projects. He serves on the board of directors of the Millennials Chamber of Commerce, an Atlanta-based organization devoted to promoting connections and networking between millennials and various global brands.

Millennials Chamber of Commerce L-R: Reaha Kim, Nick Black, Trevin Dye. Photo by Henri Hollis

“We found over the years that even though we are all members of various chambers of commerce, there’s really no place for millennials in traditional chambers or it’s a lot more difficult to get access to professionals established in the chamber because they might be in school or just starting,” Dye says. “So, what we’ve created is a global platform to kind of empower millennials and to really understand millennials of all cultures and across industries and it kind of helps them connect with each other and connect with other brands around the world.”

The Millennials Chamber of Commerce not only helps millennials make connections and empower themselves but helps businesses understand what millennials want to help their business, and this includes the automotive industry.

While millennials are often cast aside as being “not relevant” to many industrial discussions, the automotive industry understands that millennials play a big role as customers and as prospective employees, he says. “One of the good things about the automotive industry is because [millennials] are enjoying the product it’s easier to include them in the discussion,” he says.

“It was very interesting that the Southern Automotive Conference in 2017 was so focused on millennials. They were included in the fabric of the conference itself in terms of the displays and I saw it more this year too. [Millennials] were included not in the ‘sit in the audience and let me sell something to you’ sort of way but actually participate so they can see the full breadth of the jobs available to them.”

In addition to his work with JETRO and the Millennials Chamber of Commerce, Dye has  worked in publishing – he launched a magazine called Asian Vibe Atlanta a few years ago –  and founded a multi-cultural modeling agency.

He says his past experience “has played into everything I’ve done, including what I’m doing now. These are the difficulties that made it impractical for somebody to enter the circle, whether it be business or having access to people. So, since I’m strong in those categories, everything I’ve done has been to somehow bring a marginalized group or person into the circle and to help them understand that they don’t have to be on the outside.”

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