Plant Manager – ALT China
What do you love most about your work?
I have a golden team. Employees of ALT China are motivated, dedicated, hard-working, competent, and efficient. They are not afraid of trying; they always look for solutions, fight for the best and serve the customers. Most importantly, from the recent logistics crises to the three years of Covid, they relentlessly ensured the company’s continuity.
I feel privileged to work with them every day.
What brought you to Shanghai, where our China facility is located?
My wife is Chinese; she taught linguistics at Lyon University while I was a frontal airbag development engineer at Autoliv France. I wanted to learn about her country and applied for a position at Autoliv China. This is how we arrived in Shanghai on Jan. 4th, 2004.
Life is made of encounters: this move to China was made possible thanks to George Chang, president of Autoliv China at that time. A few years later, Frank Roussel, then GM of the Autoliv Steering Wheel plant, introduced me to the operational side as launch manager. In 2011, ALT Group’s CEO Jean-Luc Verstraeten came to me with the proposition to build and lead the new ALT facility in Shanghai.
George Chang, Frank Roussel and Jean-Luc Verstraeten influenced my life and changed my career. I am very thankful for their trust and the invaluable opportunities they provided me.
Tell us a professional success story that you’re proud of.
The facility in Shanghai was created to expand ALT’s global reach. Our mission was to sell, produce and deliver the standard product lines of ALT Group. The current picture, however, goes far beyond this ‘simple’ initial target.
ALT China successfully initiated strong process improvements, some of which can also be copied in other ALT facilities. On top of this, ALT China expanded its scope through electronics knowledge and printed electronics capabilities. The ALT China Development team is currently working with the European Business Development on flexible circuit applications. ALT Group maintains direct communication with OEMs and Tier 1s in this regard.
With 9.5 million New Energy Vehicles (NEVs) produced in 2023, the Chinese automotive industry proves to be a frontrunner. The presence of ALT in China gives ALT Group the opportunity to tap into the vast knowledge and experience within this product area.
How has your role evolved since you joined the team?
My role remained the same. ALT China paradigms changed, and therefore, our targets did:
The first phase was the plant start-up and the implementation of ALT Group standards. We initiated continuous improvement measures from there, followed by a three-year automation plan. Currently, we are working on digitalisation.
During those phases, I motivated the teams to step outside their comfort zones to better serve the customer, further develop the company, and increase employees’ knowledge and capabilities. My responsibility is to relentlessly push for change, for development, for evolution. My role is to refuse complacency, mediocrity, and immobility. I am committed to seeking improvement and striving for the best in every situation. This will never change. Only the circumstances will evolve!
How have you impacted the team’s success?
In my eyes, it’s very straightforward. I have to make sure that people talk to each other and work together. I have to provoke discussions when necessary and oblige each individual to consider one’s peers before acting. In this target, it is also my duty to build trust and to communicate in Chinese as much as possible.
We now have an excellent, stable team working well together. Undoubtedly, this success has a bit of my impact, but this is a never-ending task. As soon as an employee will leave and will need to be replaced, this dynamic will be at risk. My mission is to build and safeguard this invaluable asset for ALT China.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
On top of family and friends, which are the most important, I am a passionate observer of the world’s evolutions.
Are you aware that 28 million people took retirement in China in 2023 and that its median age is now higher than that of the USA? This vertiginous change confirms that the ALT China automation plan 2020-2023 was the right move, and I believe it will also be an advantage to ALT Group.
Another interesting fact: global vehicle production in China increased from 3.5% in 2000 to 33.5% in 2023. ALT Group has benefitted from this remarkable production increase through ALT China. Now it is ALT Mexico’s turn: with the Inflation Reduction Act, dozens of production facilities are opening there. ALT Mexico is in the best location at the best time to serve our customers.
As you see, despite all those changing circumstances, thanks to our global footprint, our technology, our dedicated team and our loyal customers, ALT Group has continuously grown steadily and is now opening new doors for a bright future.
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