Determination is a vital aspect of leadership. Without determination, it is near to impossible to realize goals and passion. Oftentimes, it is determination that distinguishes astute leaders amidst the crowd. “Commitment, determination, hard work and a burning passion to succeed were the attributes you needed to progress and walk up the ladder,” asserts Fernando Bertoni. Fernando’s leadership journey is an instance of the importance of determination in harboring success.
Having studied law, he grew up and was trained as a corporate lawyer in the US. As a young New York lawyer, he had the chance and privilege to work for two of the largest law firms during the 1990s. Although sleeping at work was rather a norm, it helped Fernando develop professionally as well as personally. In the late ‘90s, he moved to GE and stayed for the next 18 years. Within a few years of becoming an M&A lawyer, he seized the opportunity to move to the business side and went on to become the head of Global Business Development for GE Oil and Gas business. Fernando carried all valuable life lessons and landed at the operating side of the Private Equity world. Currently, he spearheads as the President and CEO of UTIL and contributes to its immense success.
During a recent conversation with Mirror Review, Fernando discussed his leadership style, including his roles and responsibilities and his leadership and management style. Following are some snippets from the fascinating conversation:
With a decorated leadership tenure, what factors motivated you to pursue a career at UTIL?
UTIL has become my prime preference fundamentally for two reasons. Firstly, it has given me the chance to work on a global turn-around situation with a huge potential for repositioning and value creation. Secondly, because I do it for one of the largest and financial sponsors in Europe, DeA Capital, that I have known for years and fully trust, making my business life a lot easier and more exciting.
What are the various services and solutions offered by UTIL?
Historically, we are globally recognized as a prime fine blanking technology leader that designs, manufactures and sells a wide array of high technology products to the automotive industry, and the car friction system in particular.
Over the last three years, we have broadened our scope of supply to include the design, manufacture and selling of other products and components beyond friction, including the automobile transmission and exhaust systems, as well as power train applications and auto interior components.
Being at the company’s forefront, how would you define your primary roles and duties? As the leader, how do you ensure intact motivation and productivity in the workspace?
I am a practical, “down-to-earth”, type of leader, with one objective in mind—Results. Being at the helm, my primary role is to steer the ship, which includes bringing, developing and empowering the best team possible. I take this responsibility as a journey rather than a destination.
I work with the team to develop and set the group’s strategic objectives, which we decompose into action items and each of them has a clear role to play. I try to make sure we communicate our objectives effectively, so everyone in the house understands their mission in the company. The balance of my role is to bring accountability by driving financial rigor. This means the critical importance of sticking to our financial commitments, whether in terms of revenue, earnings and cash flow.
I ensure constant productivity and motivation in the workspace with—Constant involvement, empowering, and accountability. I develop the rules of engagement, bring the right people, and then I move on to the sidelines. The idea is to create and maintain an environment of accountability, excitement and motivation that feeds itself and keeps going.
The COVID-19 pandemic posed a great threat to the functioning of several industries and businesses. What measures did you implement to surpass the challenges induced during the pandemic?
During the pandemic, we adopted a very stringent health and safety protocol across all our plants to safeguard the health of our employees, while securing business continuity. We brought a few “best practices” from our experience in China, and accelerated investments organically and inorganically.
On the former, we launched and completed a brand new, greenfield operation center in Monterrey, Mexico to accelerate our penetration in the North American market. On the inorganic side, we completed an acquisition in Europe, which allows us to expand into a number of different segments in the automotive and non-automotive business segments. Finally, last year, we completed a significant rightsizing project of our operations in Italy to guarantee increased business competitiveness.
What measures do you strategize for staying ahead in the market competition?
We strive to keep it simple and to the core. We are in essence a premier Fine Blanking technology operator with over 60 years of continuous technical innovation. With this basic concept in mind, we work hard every day on our two levers of competitive advantage, first on improving our fine blanking technical capabilities and depth, second on becoming more efficient across our global footprint.
How do you envision the future of UTIL? What are the upcoming strategies anticipated by the company?
I envision UTIL as a top, fine blanking solutions provider, for automotive and non-automotive applications on a global basis. We are heads down and determined on our way there. The biggest challenge will be to evolve from a super product supplier to a solutions provider. I can anticipate that we are working with a few outside partners to fast-track our evolution here.
Our vision and strategy for the next 3-5 years are focused on four main pillars:
Strengthening our core Backing Plates business; Accelerating Diversified Products Growth; Developing a Value-add solution in the e-Mobility market, and Expanding our Manufacturing & Technical Capabilities w/ the Most Competitive Cost Structure.
Words of Motivation:
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