Matthias Rühl is head of the Powertrain / Chassis Competence Centre for Bertrandt AG. Bertrandt has been developing individual solutions for the international automotive and aviation industries in Europe, China and the USA for more than 40 years. With its subsidiary Bertrandt Services, the company provides technical and commercial services throughout Germany in future-oriented sectors such as electrical engineering, energy, mechanical engineering and medical technology. In the following Q&A, Matthias shares with us his valuable insights on the topics of leadership and success.
TBR: What is your current role and area of responsibility?
MR: I am head of the Powertrain/Chassis Competence Centre, which also integrates brake development. My responsibilities include the strategic development of these specialist areas. I focus on rising our competences and engineering methods correlated to the demand of our clients and share it in our technology matrix organization. This effects concentrating fundamental technical Bertrandt knowledge in our group and enables fast knowledge ramp-ups in our development projects. For all aspects of the chassis and vehicle dynamics, our work includes concept and series production development, component and module development, and module integration. Our activities in the field of the chassis include design, simulation/calculation, test rigs and vehicle testing of mechatronic chassis systems.
TBR: How would you describe your leadership style and why has it worked so well for you?
MR: I like to give my co-workers the maximum amount of freedom within clear framework conditions. I am convinced that intrinsic motivation that stems from the work itself is the most effective. I believe that it is important to build on a person’s strengths. Nowadays, hardly anyone performs one job only. We all work in teams and have interfaces to other departments. If we superimpose strengths and weaknesses in this constellation, it is always the strengths that predominate.
TBR: What do you see as your biggest challenge right now?
MR: Technological change in the automotive industry is currently occupying all market players. For example, development partners such as Bertrandt are now taking on a different role in value creation. In the awarding of major contracts, this increasingly means more responsibility in the development process with longer project durations. We contribute control and project management competence. Our comprehensive range of services, decades of experience, and a sound financial basis to provide the necessary investment form an ideal foundation for successfully carrying out customer projects.
TBR: What do you look for when evaluating top talent?
MR: The ideal candidates combine an ability to work in a team, technical expertise, and business capabilities, such as commercial competence and negotiation skills.
TBR: What was your first job in Industry?
MR: I was a designer for internal combustion engines.
TBR: What is the best career advice you have been given?
MR: That decisions are only valid and correct at the point in time at which they are taken.
TBR: Name your favorite / recent book(s) you have read:
MR: “Zero” by Mark Elsberg, a thriller about the digitization of the world and an over-transparent society. Similarly, I also love “Brave new world” by Aldous Huxley, who was already looking far into the future in his science fiction novel in 1932. The book is about a perfect affluent society, but also about genetic and other kinds of manipulation.
TBR: What is your favorite quote and why?
MR: My favorite quote is “Sometimes it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission”. In these fast-moving times, to be convinced of something at a particular time, to use a window of opportunity, and to take a decision based on this will help us to grasp opportunities when they present themselves.
TBR: How do you see the industry evolving over the next 5-10 years and do you have any bold predictions for us?
MR: Electro mobility and digitization make brake technology most complex these days. Companies therefore have to reflect this in their services and competences, for example with regard to electrified powertrains. In this context, the brake system will play an important role as an energy recuperation unit with a sophisticated control function. Brake systems are facing demand for less weight, NVH resistance, new regulations for emissions and integration in rising number of ADAS and autonomous driving systems. To address these challenges, you need good engineers – and we have them!
TBR: Tell us a something that most people might not know about you or your organization.
MR: Even if Bertrandt is not directly located in your city or industrial area today, we showed in many cases around Europe, and expanding in the world, that we are able to realize to bring engineering where it is needed.
This shows our performance and flexibility to our clients demands, guarantee bundled development responsibility with our own engineering capacities and testing resources.