Jeroen Decleer, 42
Senior vice president off-highway drive and motion systems, Dana
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
In my first job I worked as an application engineer. It allowed me to understand vehicle scope and performance and how to apply technical solutions. It also gave me insight into the way customers manage innovation.
Your greatest achievement?
So far, my greatest achievement has been to drive and facilitate Dana’s off-highway business. I was in charge of strategy and execution. We transformed the business to support customers especially with electrification. We also integrated Oerlikon’s and Brevini’s drive systems businesses, among other challenges. These acquisitions transformed the unit when it came to size, footprint, as well as putting extra focus on supporting our customers. We have nearly tripled off-highway revenue to $2.6 billion in 2021 from $909 million in 2016. During that time, I went from being the senior director in charge of sales, product planning and strategy to becoming a senior vice president who also manages the entire P&L.
Family: Wife, Fleur; son, Victor, 7; daughters, Charlotte, 6, Juliette, 2
Born: Brugge, Belgium
Languages: Dutch, English, Italian, French, German
Education: MBA, EHSAL Management School, Brussels, Belgium; master’s degree in internal relations and foreign affairs, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy; master’s degree in engineering automation, Katholieke Hogeschool Brugge-Oostende, Oostende, Belgium
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
I believe failures can be treasures if you reflect and learn from them. There was a time when I put too high a priority on my career. It didn’t allow for the right balance with my family. This taught me that stability and balance between both professional and personal activities are what it takes to bring leadership to any organization. This helps motivate a committed team and is truly the key to everyone's best performance.
What is your current challenge at work?
There are challenges that range from supply chain disruptions to inflationary pressures to retaining talent. When it comes to strategy challenges, it’s all about positioning our company and portfolio to handle the changing future landscape. Technology is evolving. Both Dana and our customers are on a journey to change the vehicle architecture. At the same time, we need to invest in new equipment. We need to meet the volume ramp-up based on our customers’ demands and projected adoption rates. The electric vehicle market remains very dynamic and requires agility, courage and close customer relationships to manage it appropriately.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Surround yourself with the best people and create a high-performance team.
April 2021-present: Senior vice president, off-highway drive and motion systems, Dana, Brugge, Belgium
2020-April 2021: Vice president and general manager mobile Europe, off-highway global product management, Dana, Brugge
2016-2020: Vice president global off-highway sales, product planning, and strategy, Dana, Brugge
2014-2016: Global segment lead for mining, forestry and off-highway driveshaft, Dana, Brugge
2010-2014: Managing director, Dana Rexroth Transmission Systems, Arco, Italy
2009-2010: Sales manager, north and east Europe, Dana, Arco, Italy
2007-2009: Account manager, Dana, Brugge
2004-2007: Sales engineer, Dana, Brugge
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
The auto industry is going through many changes. This transformation will impact everyday life for many people. Therefore, there are significant opportunities in new and growing areas such as sustainability, which has become a crucial part of the business strategy at most companies. People who join now can help drive the future of mobility while learning about new technologies.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I never say no to new opportunities. However, while I'm open to anything new, I'm quite focused on my current job. Things are fantastic right now. I’m fortunate to work for a company that provides me with plenty of opportunities.
What do you do to relax?
I love spending time with my family, traveling, and experiencing places and cultures. I also enjoy playing golf. It’s important to disconnect from one’s professional life a bit and reconnect with people and nature.
What is your dream location to live?
I really enjoyed my time living near Lake Garda in Italy because of the great climate, delicious food and wonderful scenery.
What is your favorite driving song?
I enjoy listening to many things, but a good, classic Paul Oakenfold mix fuels my passion to drive.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
One of my favorite roads runs along the Amalfi Coast in Italy. It features many exciting curves and splendid views of one of the most beautiful places on earth.
What was your first car?
A Volkswagen Polo.
An Audi Q5 Quattro plug-in hybrid.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
A Porsche Taycan because it’s built on strong fundamentals and performance with the vision of the future.