TARRAGONA, Spain — Fabio Squadrani is Senior Manager, Braking Systems Department, at Applus IDIADA. He began his work in the Braking Systems Department in 2008 and in 2012 he was appointed as a Product Manager. He has been the brake dynamometer technical support at Applus IDIADA since 2011 and his current fields of activity include brakes performance and NVH development for both passenger car and commercial vehicles.
He studied mechanical engineering at Turin Polytechnic University, including a final thesis at FCA within the field of suspension active systems.
The BRAKE Report: What is your current role and area of responsibility?
Squadrani: Currently, I am working as a Senior Manager in the Braking System Department of Applus IDIADA, leading braking systems development projects for both passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
TBR: How would you describe your work/leadership style and why has it worked so well for you?
Squadrani: Personally, I am convinced that we need to have fun at work. Our job is a big portion of our daily life, it is necessary to find joy in it. This is certainly related with the way you behave with other people. Empathy is essential for developing personal relationships. I also try to be as flexible as possible. It is essential to combine project requirements with people’s needs and passions. These aspects of our daily work have obviously increased their relevance during 2020. Managing remote teams has been a very interesting task, as this working mode has shifted to a previously unexplored level.
TBR: What do you see as your biggest challenge right now?
Squadrani: An easy and straight-forward answer would be related with the management of remote teams (which has now become standard practice). But also, the management of remote customers is a new challenge for the automotive industry. This is fascinating, as over this last year a lot of innovations that we put in place in previous years (remote witnessing, real-time test results, …), have become regular tools for our daily work. 2020 has clearly demonstrated that companies can keep or increase their market share, provided a regular and courageous innovation policy is in place.
TBR: What do you look for when evaluating top talent?
Squadrani: Applus IDIADA has established a Talent Management system to identify high potentials and develop them in preparation for future opportunities according to the company Strategic Plan. Many aspects of professional performance and potential are evaluated using specific metrics, such as Proactiveness, Influence, Judgement, Learning Agility, Leadership, Client Orientation, Career Ambition, Commitment… This tool allows the company to analyse employees’ performance and professional situations and also to identify top talents, future leaders and “rising stars” according to recent and future organizational and business demands. Applus IDIADA has chosen to be proactive in terms of talent management.
TBR: What is the best career advice you have been given?
Squadrani: To be humble, focused on your daily performance and to be empathic with your colleagues. This would also be the advice I would give to young colleagues. Everybody should develop their own work ethic, based on strong values. In this way, career progression would be a natural path.
TBR: What can you tell us about your company and the markets you serve?
Squadrani: With more than 30 years of history, Applus IDIADA is a leading engineering company providing design, testing, engineering and homologation services to the automotive industry worldwide. Applus IDIADA has more than 2.400 engineers specialized in vehicle development and an international network of subsidiaries and branch offices in 22 countries, ensuring its clients receive fast and customized services.
The headquarters, composed of a 360-hectare main technical centre which includes its own proving ground and a comprehensive set of laboratories, is located near Barcelona, Spain.
Applus IDIADA’s brake systems department offers complete solutions for brake development projects worldwide. The main asset is the successful integration of design, simulation and testing capabilities which means maximum efficiency in cost and time.
TBR: What are the major challenge(s) facing your organization now, in the near term and the long term?
Squadrani: We must be honest. The current pandemic has put the entire industry through a dramatic change.
The challenge in the short term is still the same. Mobility restrictions are complicating the deployment of our service, but we are finding new ways to stay close to our customers.
In the midterm, Applus IDIADA is planning a set of investments needed for the development of service for autonomous vehicles. L5 vehicles are dealing with very ambitious and challenging concepts for vehicle development and validation. A €15-million investment is already in place, but our company is certainly more ambitious than this.
TBR: How do you see the industry evolving over the next five-10 years and do you have any bold predictions for us?
Squadrani: It seems obvious to say that the future is related with data. OEMs, Tier 1s, Service Companies, …, everybody is gathering data, related with braking systems. Data could come from development, from the market, from simulation… Gathering data is generating a lot of different possibilities on many aspects: development and correlations can be quicker, implementation of intelligent algorithms is already the state of the art and is enhancing vehicle functionalities, and also response to market requirement is becoming more and more efficient. Digitalization is already a big pillar of the brake industry.
TBR: What are the best opportunities for the company?
Squadrani: Nowadays big opportunities are running in parallel with the challenges that our industry is facing, mainly related with connectivity, automatization and electrification. As I said, new facilities are under development in order to set the standard for SAE L5 automated vehicle testing.
In addition to this, I would say that the big opportunity Applus IDIADA has is related to our integration capabilities. We are a multi-discipline company, focused on the main vehicle functionalities. Today, an integrated approach crossing all the different vehicle functionalities is needed when approaching vehicles and systems development. We really think it is something that we have been working hard on over recent years.
TBR: Tell us something that most people might not know about you or your organization.
Squadrani: I really would like to underline the inclusive spirit that we share at IDIADA. We are a highly inclusive and international company. With more than 30 nationalities working together, we are really proud of our multi-cultural working environment.