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Preparing for a Paradigm Shift

DENSO Vice President Britt Autry says manufacturers will need to dramatically accelerate their capacity to change in order to meet new product and market demands.

Q: What is your role and focus at your company?
My current role is at DENSO’s Maryville, TN location, the North America manufacturing hub for vehicle electrification, electronics, and information/safety systems.
My focus is on competitive manufacturing of automotive electronic parts, metric improvement for our suppliers, and efficient conveyance operations for parts and products in our network.

Q: What is the most pressing issue facing the manufacturing industry today?
The entire automotive manufacturing sector is preparing for the coming paradigm shift. In DENSO, we use the acronym C.A.S.E. that stands for the Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electrified vehicle technology shift that will come in the next 5-to-10 years. We need the foresight to evolve our business and continue manufacturing sustainable products.

Q: What is the most important corporate initiative you are involved in at the moment?
My immediate special focus is improving our DENSO logistics system to meet coming product expansion needs while meeting the mid- and long-term targets of the organization. I feel that our North America region offers several advantages in logistics automation. DENSO’s goal is to learn from the established technology and use the founding principles of our lean production system to drive our logistics competitiveness.

Q: What will be the most important leadership qualities to possess in the future?
With advancements in information technology, one of the challenges for leaders is to keep the primary focus on workplace engagement. I use a “3L” concept that stands for Listening to others, Learning from the environment around you, and Leading the organization. Leaders have to develop good personal relationships as well as continuously scan industry developments. Companies need to move very quickly, perhaps at ten times the previous speed, to meet the new market demands. Company leaders must articulate a clear vision based on emerging information, guide the organization achievement through inspiring the team, and strengthen competitiveness.

Q: What will be the greatest opportunities for manufacturers over the next five years?
DENSO established the tagline “Crafting the Core” which means knowing your core strength and leveraging it for achievement. Manufacturers that have an established and sustainable core will have the best opportunity to succeed. Also, companies that strategically leverage external expertize can better align their organizations with the next opportunities.

Q: What is your favorite activity outside of work or the last book you read?
I have a small cattle farm that keeps me occupied outside of work. As for books, I recently read Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs and followed with Bryce Hoffman’s American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford.

Britt Autry

Company: DENSO Corporation
Location: Maryville, Tennessee
Size: 170,000 employees, $48.1 billion in annual revenues
Industry: Automotive components

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