Peter Sokol doesn’t waste too much time thinking about the past – instead, this CEO is a firm believer in the power of preparing for the future. “It’s about never looking back, I’m always looking forward, asking, ‘What can we do? What is possible?’” he tells The CEO Magazine.
“I love those kinds of sleepless nights being part of an entrepreneurial company that is fully committed to delivering results to our customers, employees and shareholders – it’s always exciting and challenging.”
Indeed, when SEG Automotive became its own entity in 2018, shedding the baggage that came with being a Bosch subsidiary, Peter was more than ready to step up to the challenge. With over three decades of experience in the industry, his knowledge has been a true asset to the company’s evolution and growth.
“When I decided to take the role of CEO, my goal was to look at how we could answer the new challenges in our industry, turn around SEG Automotive to be really profitable and change the mindset – to embrace being a mid-size company and adopt a can-do attitude,” Peter explains.
“In a way, SEG Automotive feels a bit like a startup. But, normally, startups are small companies with small ideas, while we are a billion-dollar global player. However, bringing a startup mentality to our daily work and development processes was a big move.”
There’s no doubt that it was the right move because under its new name, SEG Automotive has managed to maintain its reputation as one of the best in the industry – a leading global supplier of starter motors, generators and components for electrification. “We represent the best of multiple worlds,” Peter smiles.
“Given our 100-year heritage of being a technology leader for rotating machines, SEG Automotive’s passion for innovation and technical expertise is second to none. For on-road and off-road, commercial vehicles and passenger cars, we have efficient, reliable solutions. But at the same time, we’re constantly evolving: we aim to wed German engineering standards with Chinese speed and adaptability. We encourage a sense of ownership, not just on the top level, but also throughout all hierarchies and for our regions.”
It’s a testament to SEG Automotive’s practices and processes that the company has achieved operational excellence on such an impressive scale – with 11 production sites and locations in all major automotive markets. “We have an extremely broad customer base including virtually all carmakers in the world,” Peter explains.
“So it’s essential that we’re providing the highest quality – in processes, specifications and field performance. We emphasise operational excellence through the whole value chain and the whole supply chain management, including risk management and regional sourcing.”
We aim to wed German engineering standards with Chinese speed.
It’s not surprising then that integral to its success is the reliance on dependable, high-quality partners in every corner of the globe – many of whom have been working with the company for decades.
“Our philosophy is ‘local for local’ with uniform global quality standards,” Peter reveals. “We have local manufacturing of our global product platforms in China, for China, with a large share of Chinese suppliers. It’s the same in India, the same in the US, Brazil and Europe.
“That is key because, first of all, it means dealing with the needs of customers is much simpler because you can solve issues locally with our strong regional presidents as decision makers. It’s a very trusting cooperation. We co-develop solutions, jointly improve processes, and we offer our expertise to smaller suppliers and support them in their capabilities, which ends up being a win–win situation for us all.”
Now, as the industry shifts focus towards more sustainable solutions like electrification, Peter is very proud to be contributing to a better future. “The automotive industry is currently undergoing its biggest transformation in history,” he says.
“Especially in Europe and China, there is high pressure from policy and society to replace conventional internal combustion engines. We see it as our mission to contribute to climate protection. We offer sensible solutions in CO2 saving for 12V, 48V hybridisation and electrification.
“This is part of our unique ‘Way Forward’ – it’s not only about remaining a technology leader and driving innovation, it’s about how we do business, how we respond to COVID-19 triggered market decline, and how we set ourselves up to be profitable in the long-term. Those are tall orders – but our global team has never had an issue with rising to the challenge.”