We continue with our monthly web section Saltor Talent Executive Agora, where we will interview different executives. This June we interviewed Asier Unzueta, Plant Manager at the Zaragoza Plant for the company CAF.
Tell us briefly your professional career (training, and how your career has developed)
I studied Industrial Engineering in Zaragoza, and I was an Erasmus in France for a year (where I obtained a Maitrise de Mecanique). & nbsp; I started working in France, in the Logistics area for the Decathlon company, where I was 5 years and I ended up in the position of Director of Logistics for the Central Region in Spain.
Later, I went to the automotive world with the Valeo company (also French), where I spent 20.5 years in different functions and areas, from Production Director, HR Director, Plant Manager and General Director. With Valeo I have worked in Spain, Brazil (for 4 years), Mexico (3.5 years) and the USA (0.5 years).
8 months ago I changed the sector, to that of the Railway Rolling Stock with CAF, and I am working at the Zaragoza Plant.
As an engineer, your experience has been developed mainly in technical positions (production, logistics, plant management). However, at one point in your career you held a Human Resources Department. Why did you decide to take this step and what were the main learnings?
At Decathlon, I had to set up a logistics center in Getafe, making all kinds of decisions, from choosing the land on which to build it, the internal layout, and preparing the team that was going to work there. In this case, the hiring and training of 200 people to ensure the opening date were key in the process and it was a great learning experience that made me see the importance of this function.
The change to HR Director was proposed to me at the end of 2001, when I had only been at Valeo for a year and a half and the General Director offered it to me because he understood that my dealings with the staff were good, that I knew how to reach agreements and that he knew how to negotiate. It seemed like a challenge for me and I decided to accept.
I learned that it is people who make the difference in companies, and that having clear objectives, accompanying and helping people grow and being motivated is essential for the success of the company.
I also realized that there is a lot of internal talent in companies that must be cared for and made to grow, not just looking for external talent for each position. You have to have a balance in this matter and motivate the staff who may have the possibility of growth if they show their potential.
Your professional career has developed, to a great extent, in the automotive sector. You recently joined a different sector (railway sector). How have you experienced the change in the sector and what advice could you give to a person currently facing a similar challenge?
I have approached the change as an opportunity to learn and to implement part of my experience in a new sector for me. It is true that the differences from working with large series in the automotive sector to small series in the railway sector are very large, but there are many dynamics that can be implemented in both businesses.
In the end, whoever makes this type of change must adapt to the new business, listening, learning and then applying his experience and mainly common sense. There are many things that are done well in this sector, and the dynamics I see are very good, and people are very receptive to new ideas that I can contribute.
Once the analysis of the situation has been done, the important thing is to create a plan of where you want to go and work with the team the path that will take us there.
Reviewing your professional career, if you look back, what have been the main learnings that you consider could help other professionals in their careers?
I have always worked and managed as if the company were mine, and I make decisions so that they do not improve an indicator of one department or another, but what is best for the company.
In addition, although I clearly focus on meeting the objectives, I try to do it in a way that is teamwork that leads us to achieve them.
I have also focused on making people grow, and that makes me very proud, since I now see good executives in companies that in the past I had the opportunity to promote them and give them new responsibilities.
And as I mentioned in the previous question, we must see where we want to go, an ambitious goal, and prepare the actions to get closer to that goal.
Thank you very much for your participation!