Robert Schnell, 40
VP, Ford global account, Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies
Family: Wife, Kimberly; son, Zachary, 10; daughter, Megan, 8
Born: Owosso, Michigan, USA
Education: MBA, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA; bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first automotive job was an internship at Donnelly Corp. working on interior and exterior mirror products. I grew up in Michigan and always had an interest in cars, so the automotive industry was a natural place to start my career.
Many individuals who have worked in my teams have been promoted to senior levels within the organization. I am proud to have been a part of their career development and wish them continued success in the future.
Biggest failure and what it taught you?
Many years ago my company at the time lost a piece of business that I had expected to win. The business was lost because we had not achieved the right level of customer satisfaction. This taught me to never take customer satisfaction for granted and has provided motivation throughout my career.
What is your current challenge at work?
An increasingly global business environment requires alignment of resources across multiple regions, time zones, and cultures. We are shaping our business to address these challenges and have made strong progress in recent years.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
It never, ever slows down. There is always a new challenge..
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Focus on your people. Hire the right people and spend time helping them develop. Having the right people on the team will enable you to achieve great results.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Be prepared for a very dynamic but rewarding work environment.
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
My first step would be to assess the people on my team and make sure the right people are in the right places. I firmly believe that the road to success is through having strong team members and working with them in a positive way to help them achieve their highest potential.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I would like to take on a general manager role within Faurecia.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and two children exploring Europe. I also enjoy playing golf in my spare time.
1978 Pontiac Grand Prix 305 V8.
Ford S-Max and Fiesta.
2011-present: VP, Ford global account, Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies, Brentwood, England
2007-2011: VP, Ford NAO customer business unit, Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies, Toledo, Ohio, USA
2005-2007: Commercial director, Ford NAO customer business unit, Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies, Toledo, Ohio
2004-2005: Program manager – Ford NAO customer business unit, Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies, Toledo, Ohio
2002-2003: Engineering manager, Newaygo Division, Magna Donnelly, Newaygo, Michigan, USA
2001-2002: Engineering manager – exterior mirror and door handle engineering, Magna Donnelly, Holland, Michigan, USA
2000-2001: Engineering manager – actuator engineering, Magna Donnelly, Holland, Michigan
1995-2000: Product development engineer – actuator engineering, interior mirror engineering, Magna Donnelly, Holland, Michigan