Will driving a cool car make or break my career?Chen Wan Lim
Who doesn’t like a red Ferrari or a jet black Mercedes-Benz? Often, especially in Malaysia, people are judged by the car they drive. While successful businessmen are expected to be driving in Mercedes-Benz or a BMW, mid-level executives are expected to drive a mid-range Japanese car such as a Honda or a Toyota. There are countless arguments and debates on how cars define a person and whether it could launch or break your career. Here are some thoughts on how the car you drive can impact your career:
Where are you in your career?
Ask yourself, where are you in your career at the moment? If you have just started out with two years’ worth of experience, then driving an expensive car probably wouldn’t match the position stated on your name card. Choose a car that will match your position. Likewise, you wouldn’t expect a Chief Executive Officer of an investment bank to drive a mid-range Japanese car to work.
Every workplace has its culture and when there are people, there’s bound to be some water cooler gossips. If your colleagues who are ten years your senior drive past model cars, then you wouldn’t want to be the fresh hire who drives a Porsche to work every day. This could inadvertently spark resentments and jealousy and could up to a certain extent, affect your relationship with your colleagues. In addition, it could send the message that you don’t really need the job after all.
I’m the boss
But what if I happen to be a boss of my own company? Can’t I enjoy the success of my labour with an expensive sports car? Again, there is no definitive answer. Some employees may view the expensive car that the boss is driving as a motivation while others might feel short-changed, thinking that they are not fairly remunerated.
I’m the top salesman in my company
It is very common to see salespeople driving flashy cars in Malaysia. Some say it’s to symbolise their success while others say the car is to keep them motivated to continue to drive for sales. Regardless of the reasons, driving a cool car in front of a potential client might not bode well. Clients are always “dollar centric”. Therefore, clients always need to feel that they are getting the best bang for the buck. If the salesperson servicing them is driving a very expensive sports car, then the client might feel that they are being overcharged. Alternatively, driving an expensive sports car could reinforce the client’s perception of you. It could show that you are wildly successful and be very good at your job to be able to afford that car.
In the end of the day, only you can decide on what car to drive. People tend to make judgements and perceptions on everyone every day every time. Just be sure that you are able to maintain the car you choose.