Leadership Spotlight: Q & A with Jon Morrison

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Jon Morrison was appointed WABCO’s President, Americas in June 2015. Prior to his current role, he served as President, North America for American Axle and Manufacturing after having held the position of Vice President Vehicle Dynamics and Controls with WABCO. From 2006 through 2014, Jon Morrison served as President and General Manager of Meritor WABCO, the joint venture between Meritor and WABCO.

Prior to these positions, various leadership posts during a 15-year career with Dana Corporation including General Manager, Plant Manager and Global Director of Sales and Engineering.

In addition, Morrison spent seven years working with PBR International, an Australian-based light vehicle foundation brake manufacturer. At PBR, Morrison started as President of a joint venture between Delphi and PBR. Morrison later became Vice President of Sales and Product Planning North America.

His 30-year career includes responsibilities in finance, manufacturing, sales and marketing, engineering as well as managing global customer relationships.

Morrison holds a Bachelor’s degree in General Management from Purdue University and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Bowling Green State University

What is your current role and area of responsibility?  

I am President of the Americas for WABCO. I report to Jacques Esculier, CEO, and am part of the Executive Leadership Team.  I am accountable for the overall P&L of the Americas Region which comprises all WABCO business activity in North and South America.

How would you describe your work/leadership style and why has it worked so well for you?  

I would describe my leadership style as “firm but fair.”  I really enjoy challenging myself and everyone on the team to accomplish more than we expect. I do expect a lot out of my team but not more than I expect from myself.  I also always try to create an environment of transparency and open exchange supported by decisiveness and action.

What do you see as your biggest challenge right now? 

We’re challenging ourselves to develop our team and further grow our region through our “Partners in Uptime” vision.  This is a very ambitious vision to engage our entire company to be devoted to and focused on ensuring fully satisfied customers. 

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How has the global Covid-19 pandemic impacted your operation? What will the brake world look like in light of the pandemic in the near term?

Like many businesses, WABCO has taken all of the necessary actions to protect our people. All employees who can have been required to work remotely, and where people are working on site, we’ve introduced strict safety measures to ensure that we’re protecting our employees and communities. We have remained focused on maintaining operations as an “essential business,” supplying parts and equipment to keep commercial trucks running on our highways and to ensure continued operations in the military and agriculture sectors. 

I think the brake world is a very exciting place and more demanding than ever. Braking technologies such as collision mitigation systems, air disc brakes and electronic braking will remain very active projects due to the immense benefit in safety, cost of operation and uptime they can bring to the transportation industry and the general public.

The good news is that commercial vehicles will always need braking! 

What do you look for when evaluating top talent?

The first thing I look for is a positive outlook and creativity. In today’s rapid changing and very competitive workplace, the ability to look for positive solutions with a constantly creative approach is really the norm.  We must anticipate, be creative and then execute well.  That is our driving philosophy in WABCO.

What is the best career advice you have been given?

Leave my ego at the door!  Ambition without humility and compassion is simply ego.  I think there are so many good ideas and opportunities for collaboration that all perspectives should be considered  when making decisions and changes.  I am very glad when someone’s idea turns out to be the right solution – this is so powerful and fun!

Where do you look for inspiration?

I really seek out the people in the organization who do things differently and better than I do.  As a leader, you must continue to learn every day. I get so inspired by people I work with who do a better job of remembering the little things, saying the right thing at the right time or even not saying anything at all.  This inspires me to do my own leadership gap analysis and make changes in my style.

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How do you see the industry evolving over the next 5-10 years and do you have any bold predictions for us?

Certainly the increase in automation, electrification and connectivity will have a dramatic impact on trucking and transportation.  We have demonstrated feasibility in these technologies, but now will come the very challenging part of widespread deployment.  What I really enjoy is seeing our team come together with tremendous expertise to pass these milestones, and to realize that with each one passed we’re making the technology even better.

What is the major challenge(s) facing WABCO  now, in the near term and the long term?

WABCO has very successfully globalized into a leading global vehicle control supplier.  We have business with virtually every commercial vehicle OEM on the planet. That said, the amount of time and investment to support the development of electrification and autonomous technologies will be very challenging in the years ahead. We work very hard to bring efficiencies, partnerships and collaboration to stretch our development to reach all of our customers’ ambitions.

What are the best opportunities for the company?

I believe the best opportunities we have are to continue to provide modular low-cost global technologies which help our customers deploy their technology strategies widely and efficiently.  I also believe that our people in WABCO–with their passion and engagement–are some of the best in the world to partner with our customers to keep their vehicles at the maximum uptime.

The overall automotive world is being overwhelmed by the concept of autonomous/automated driving for both safety and efficiency reasons. How soon do you believe we will see truly autonomous commercial vehicles on the road?

In fact, we have already seen some very mature examples of this technology being deployed. I would say the technology is pretty far along. The bigger factors which will impact timing, in my opinion, are infrastructure readiness, connectivity, and legal and legislative matters. But there are many people working on all of these things, and I still believe by the end of the decade we will see examples of autonomous technology in commercial use.

Tell us something that most people might not know about you or your organization.

We are a 150 year old company started in 1869 by George Westinghouse. He created the company to improve locomotive train braking and increase safety–in many ways the same process and methods we use today!  Our passion for innovation is very much the same today as we strive to save lives and protect the environment.

The Brake Report
The Brake Report

The BRAKE Report is an online media platform dedicated to the automotive and commercial vehicle brake segments. Our mission is to provide the global brake community with the latest news & headlines from around the industry.