Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Strategy Officer Innovation Summit in San Francisco on May 21 & 22, we spoke to Eric Tech, SVP Strategy & Planning at Navistar.
Eric successfully developed the blueprint for Navistar’s strategic direction following a significant restructuring and refocussing of our business. Going forward he is responsible for defining meaningful and transformation growth opportunities as well as identifying combinations and potential global alliances for Navistar.
Before joining Navistar, Eric spent almost two decades at the Ford Motor Company. He has BSME and MBA from the University of Michigan and has served as a past chair of SAE North American International Powertrain Conference. He is also a Midwest Trustee for the Boys and Girls Club and a member of the Salvation Army Chicago Advisory Board.
What would you say is the most challenging aspect of strategic planning at Navistar?
Getting alignment among the operating groups. Most of the functions within the company do not necessarily see the value of longer term strategic planning. Our culture has been focused on quarter to quarter.
You’ve expanded into South America and China, does Navistar have separate strategy departments for these countries? Or are they controlled centrally?
Navistar has a single corporate strategy function. This is a new phenomenon within the company. Historically Navistar was highly decentralized with each business defining their own strategy, including global. Now we have one group and one forum for this, the Navistar Strategy Board, chaired by our CEO.
When developing a strategic vision, what would you say are the most important points to consider?
Start with the external environment. Where is the world going? Then look at internal capabilities and constraints. What are we good at and what can’t we do? Find the fusion of those two and you have the recipe for a strategy.
From a strategic perspective, what’s going to make or break companies operating in the automotive industry going forward?
Scale is a big deal. Development cost to stay current on emerging trends, especially environmental are huge. Understanding your customers and their needs better than your competitors and in some cases better than your customers is how you can win.
How important do you think leadership is when implementing successful company strategies?
It is the most important thing, period. No strategy can succeed without the force of a strong leader who believes in and becomes the apostle for that vision.
How important are strategic partnerships for Navistar’s continued success?
Essential to the success of the Company. We see our future as one that involves an array of strategic partners, each bringing a unique value to Navistar, and where we further their strategy as well. Partnerships only work if both companies see that they receive value and recognize that it fits into a bigger strategic picture.
What can attendees of the Chief Strategy Officer Summit expect from your presentation?
A “Phoenix from the ashes” story of how a storied company re-invented itself through a complete strategic transformation.
You can see Eric present at the Chief Strategy Officer Innovation Summit in San Francisco on May 21 & 22.