Deaglán Ó Meachair is Functional Manager – Brake Systems, Bentley Motors Ltd. Bentley is driven by the idea that luxury and performance are complementary, not irreconcilable opposites. As well as Bentley engineering impressive high performance cars for the track, the marque has always focused on creating exquisite and luxurious handcrafted interiors for its road cars. In the following Q&A, Deaglán shares with us his valuable insights on the topics of leadership and success.
TBR: What is your current role and area of responsibility?
DOM: I lead a team of engineers and designers, responsible for all brake actuation topics, as well as overall system performance planning. I am also responsible for foundation brakes on the Bentley Mulsanne platform, as well as regenerative braking in Bentley.
TBR: How would you describe your leadership style and why has it worked so well for you?
DOM: I see myself as a collaborative mentor. I have found success in aligning my team’s personal ambitions with the business requirements. I feel it is important to give people responsibility for their own outcomes, and this means giving them ownership of some areas of responsibility they are passionate about.
In a wider context, I feel a similar approach gets me the best results, finding a common goal or interest with my colleagues quickly allows us to focus on what we can achieve together.
TBR: What do you see as your biggest challenge right now?
DOM: Working in a very traditional motor company, my biggest challenge is embracing the new paradigm in brakes that comes when kinetic energy is transformed into something other than heat. For almost a century, Bentley Motors has built its reputation embracing extremes of luxury and performance, and our brake systems have therefore always pushed the boundaries. My challenge is to find new ways to create the best brakes in the world, without relying solely on the solutions of my predecessors.
TBR: What do you look for when evaluating top talent?
DOM: First and foremost is technical aptitude. Second is a passion for technology – it is absolutely essential to succeed in the environment we operate in. But beyond that, I need people that are flexible and collaborative, who can work well in teams, and show initiative.
TBR: What was your first job in Industry?
DOM: My first job was as an intern during my university course – I spent 8 fascinating months working in the Chassis Pre-Development Department of Volkswagen AG, in Wolfsburg, Germany. I was delighted by the scale and diversity of the work going on around me, and excited to be able to contribute to some of it.
I found it really rewarding to be able to apply some of my theoretical knowledge to real world problems, but also to be able to get deep into topics and create new solutions for the team I was working with.
TBR: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at age 20?
DOM: Take more risks! I now think the path to success isn’t as narrow as I probably thought it was at the start of my career.
TBR: Name your favorite / recent book(s) you have read:
DOM: As a technologist, I’m an avid Science Fiction reader. I keep coming back to Isaac Asimov and Iain M. Banks – I find the interaction between humans and advanced AI to be a really interesting place to let my mind wander.
TBR: How do you see brake technology evolving over the next five to ten years?
DOM: The history of braking at Bentley over its first century could be summarised as 50 years of drum brakes followed by 50 years of disc brakes, with a continual trend of larger and larger installed thermal capacity. I believe at the start of our second century, we will see a significant change in that trend. With the advent of regenerative braking systems, bigger will no longer be better. Initially this shift will happen on the actuation side, but it will quickly alter our approach to sizing the entire brake system. I think in ten years, vacuum boosters will no longer be commonplace, having been superseded by electro-mechanical alternatives and foundation brakes will have reached their maximum size.
TBR: What has been the biggest contributor to your success at this point?
DOM: I think I would single out my ability to pursue my own vision. I find that this allows me to motivate myself to overcome challenges and obstacles, and achieve things I otherwise would never even have considered possible.
TBR: Tell us a something that most people might not know about you or your organization.
DOM: Our company founder, Walter Owen Bentley, registered his first patent (US1368879) for his new company, in brake actuation.
About Bentley Motors Ltd.
Not every Bentley is designed for the racetrack – but every Bentley can make the heart race.
Our journey started 96 years ago and continues today in the spirit we began. We are constantly exploring innovative materials and new engineering ideas, discovering new and more effective ways to do things. We are always looking for better – asking ‘what if?’ and thinking about how our heritage links our past, present and future owners – always driving towards the extraordinary.
Every Bentley is designed and tested to the limit. Each model performs effortlessly in extreme climates, far beyond anything you could ever demand from it. It requires a combination of visionary thinking and innovative technology to achieve this – and a mindset that never takes ‘no’ for an answer.
Photo Credit: Bentley Motors Ltd.