What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I took a student job at Textron Automotive during my summer holidays. I was fascinated by the relationship between man and machines. Humans need machines to help do their jobs better and faster. Machines need humans to set them up, run them and maintain them.
They need each other. This relationship will strengthen as we see smart factories start using collaborative robots that take on more tasks and work alongside people.
Born: Genk, Belgium
Nationality: Belgian and Moroccan
Languages: Dutch, English, German, French, Moroccan Arabic
Education: Studied human sciences, mathematics and foreign languages, Heilig Hart College, Maasmechelen, Belgium
Your greatest achievement?
I'm fortunate to have had several. I have been involved in launching seven greenfield factories. A new plant is like a child. After the launch you teach the team how to walk and work together on the same objectives. Finally, once the training is complete, you let them run into the world. It makes me proud to see the plant's employees continue to succeed. I also really value the great relationships I have built over the past 18 years. I even met my wife during this professional journey. I am a very lucky man.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
I am a very optimistic guy. That is why I don't remember failures. I work hard to try and avoid high risks as well as utilize lessons learned. I always start by developing a Plan B. It helps me avoid making big mistakes.
What is your current challenge at work?
Since January 2017, I have been at IAC's first plant in Poland. More than 500 people work at this plant producing interior parts for a premium automaker. Within one year, our plant has been already been awarded with new contracts from another premium automaker. Our challenge is to prepare ourselves to handle future growth and new programs. This includes products for autonomous cars that will require more technology integration and flexible interior designs.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
I love how dynamic our industry is. Everyone is always striving to launch new programs and improve upon ideas. It is always about being faster, better and improving quality expectations for the sake of the consumer.
2014-2016: Senior manager for strategy and business planning, IAC, Opole
2013-2014: Project manager strategic relocation and launch production, IAC, Logrono, Spain
March 2013-July 2013: Project manager for new logistic center , IAC, Halewood, England
Jan. 2013-Feb. 2013: Team member for joint venture, IAC , East London, South Africa
June 2012-Dec. 2012: Project manager for a new Moroccan supply chain, IAC , Tangier, Morocco
2009-May 2012: Project manager, IAC, Craiova, Romania
2008-2009: Project manager, IAC, Gothenburg, Sweden
2006-2007: Launch manufacturing engineer, cockpit assembly, Collins & Aikman, Genk, Belgium
2004-2005: Launch manufacturing engineer, console and instrument panel assembly, Collins & Aikman, Hodonin, Czech Republic
2003: Launch prototype & process engineer, cockpit assembly, Textron, Cologne, Germany
2001-2002: Launch prototype & process engineer, cockpit assembly, Textron, Genk, Belgium
What is the best advice you have ever received?
My father told me to work hard. My mother told me to follow my dreams, be true to myself and dedicate myself to every goal. I consider their guidance as key elements to having success in life.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Love what you do. Always try to find a mentor to learn from. Make sure you develop your social, language and professional skills. Don't be afraid of new and difficult challenges. See them as opportunities. Finally, always deliver. No matter what it takes.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I am open to any challenge as long as it will contribute to my personal development, adds to the company's results and there is still a good balance between my family and professional lives.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy spending my free time with my wife and son as well as visiting friends and relatives. Living, laughter and love are the key ingredients of my life.
What is your pet peeve?
I don't like it when project deadlines are missed and commitments are not met.
What was your first car?
Third-generation Volkswagen Golf.
A Volvo XC90 with door modules, cockpit modules and a tailored instrument panel made by IAC.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would be an all-terrain vehicle that's able to handle all kinds of driving conditions. It would reflect my career because I have taken on difficult challenges, lived in many countries and experienced many cultures. In the end I would always reach my destination.