Bertrand FIGUERAS: Revolutionizing the Automotive Industry with Innovative Sustainable Mobility Solutions

Business Leaders

Faurecia is one of the top 10 global leading automotive technology suppliers with €17.8 billion sales. The group provides its solutions within four strategic businesses: Clean Mobility, Seating, Interior System and Clarion Electronics. Faurecia equips 1 in 3 vehicles around the world. As a trusted partner for all automakers, commercial vehicles and high horsepower customers, the group has 104,000 employees in 248 plants and 37 engineering centers globally. Faurecia’s nearly half, 49%, of sales come from Europe, followed by 25% from North America, 20% from Asia, and 5% from the ROW, including India. 

Faurecia started its first business in India in 1996 with a plant making seats for Toyota. Later, in 2004, it established its Engineering Center in the country. The group further grew with the acquisition of Emcon in 2010, and recently acquired Clarion Electronics in 2018. Faurecia now has 4000 people in India almost equally split between Operations, and Engineering & Services. The group’s HQ is located in Pune, with plants running all across India, including Manesar, Sanand, Pune, Bangalore, Anantapur, and Chennai. 

 

An Influential Leader 

Bertrand FIGUERAS is the Managing Director of Faurecia Clean Mobility, India and ASEAN. His role will be enlarged to President for all product lines very soon that will be spun around defining the strategy and deploying the company’s technologies in the Indian market for all products. Bertrand holds a degree in Physical Engineering and joined Faurecia in 1995. He has served several positions in Sales, Marketing, Innovation, Engineering, Operations, General Management in various countries like Korea, China, Thailand, and now India, on top of his home country of France. 

 

Making a Positive Contribution to the Society 

Bertrand says that Faurecia is contributing to India by different means: 

  • Seat and Interior technologies that are increasing the safety of vehicles, and the comfort and well-being of passengers. 
  • Exhaust system solutions which are contributing to lower emissions and improve air quality with the introduction of the BS6 system on both Passenger cars and Commercial Vehicles in line with the Make in India initiative. 
  • By employing 4000 people in India, the country is a crucial Engineering hub for Faurecia. 
  • Contributing to many CSR activities and has launched projects as part of the Faurecia foundation to develop education for girls in India. 
  • Deploying leadership values to the country: increased diversity, collaborative leadership, helping India to leapfrog leadership practices faster. 
  • Developing a Carbon neutral strategy to reduce its internal CO2 emission by 2025 and reach carbon neutrality by 2030. 

 

Technology Revolution That Inspires Sustainable Future   

Bertrand believes that all technologies have a crucial role in developing a sustainable future. People cannot continue to destroy the planet and ignore climate change. CO2 neutrality is an absolute need and is the responsibility of every individual to take measures on a personal level as well as the company level to achieve a sustainable future. He asserts that the COVID crisis has been a strong reminder of human’s ignorance of nature and biodiversity. People must focus their attention on this. 

To the extent, the role of a leader is critical to create awareness on the planet’s issues and create a long-term focus for his/her company’s action. Leaders also must look for innovations that can help address the need of the poor people who are the most impacted by those changes, especially in India. 

However, all such technologies are nothing if the leadership does not provide an inclusive frame where companies will collaborate with their community to make the needed changes and change the society for the better. Faurecia has taken several initiatives in India, such as participating in river cleaning, mountain cleaning, building schools around its plants, and lately promoting a project to Faurecia foundation on Education for Girls in India. 

 

Vital Action-Oriented Leadership Traits 

According to Bertrand, in the current volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous world, transformational leaders must focus on agility and collaboration. Agility is the ability to adapt quickly to changing environments while keeping strong values and a clear vision. He says, “Everything is changing, like the environment, but at the same time, nothing is changing, like our values. The vision stays mostly the same, what changes is the way to get there.” 

On the other hand, collaboration is the ability to federate people in working together towards a common purpose and achieving a compelling vision. Bertrand feels that with the ever-increasing complexity, only collaborative organizations will survive. 

In the end, the role of leaders is to promote diversity in all forms, with a special focus on gender diversity in India. 

 

Pragmatic Leadership Challenges 

Leadership is all about understanding people’s behavior and emotion. To understand people, a leader needs to be able to control his/her own emotions. It took time for Bertrand to be able to do it. To achieve this emotional control, he went through different trainings on communication, coaching on his leadership style, and read as many books as possible on personal leadership. Interacting with different cultures has helped Bertrand a lot in understanding how to communicate effectively without using words. As some collaborators were not speaking English, he had to develop his skills in nonverbal communication. 

 

Exceptional Achievements and an Inspiring Journey 

In his career, Bertrand has been confronted to many situations that have challenged him. The most impactful was the several expatriations he has been through in Asia, where Bertrand was deeply impacted by the local cultures. The second lesson has been through the various leaders he worked with, some being fantastic coaches, showing Bertrand how leadership could negatively impact performance if not done properly. “Leaders are groomed by being exposed to challenges, and they learn by overcoming them,” he said. 

 

Leading Towards the Future of Sustainable Mobility 

Faurecia has initiated a transformation around two strategic axes: Clean Mobilities and Cockpit of the Future. 

As part of Clean Mobilities, the group is developing solutions for zero-emission as well as electrification. Faurecia has always been at the forefront of the innovation on de-pollution with the First Particulate Filter installed on a vehicle in 2000, then the first installation of a DeNOx system in 2005, along with the introduction of the first Compact Mixing technology on the commercial vehicle side. Now the group is developing solutions to reduce emissions further, while providing solutions for Fuel Cell vehicles. For example, Faurecia is supplying hydrogen tanks to the first hydrogen truck developed by Hyundai for Switzerland, which is a worldwide premiere. The group has also created SYMBIO, a Joint Venture with Michelin on Fuel Cell to develop this technology across the world for various industries. Faurecia believes that Hydrogen could represent 18% of energy demand by 2050, and it is working actively to reduce the cost of the Fuel Cell and the storage system. 

For Cockpit of the future, Faurecia wants to develop solutions that will make the cockpit connected, versatile and predictive. The group works on various concepts for advanced safety systems, innovative solutions for thermal and postural comfort, as well as cockpit electronic solutions and display technologies. To develop those technologies, Faurecia has established a technology ecosystem with Techno incubator in various hubs worldwide. The group also has partnerships with Mahle, Hella, ZF, and more with startups like Horizon Robotics and HumanFab. 

 

Advice to Emerging Business Leaders 

As tomorrow’s world will revolve around data and it is very essential to handle data safely and securely, Bertrand recommends budding leaders to focus on Cybersecurity. 

He says, Faurecia is focusing on five risk families: 1) Cyber Intrusion, 2) Cyber Espionage, 3) Cyber Sabotage, 4) Cyber Crime, and 5) Non-Compliance, with a significant focus on awareness and education of its employees.