Sergio Marchionne discusses retirement, accomplishments at SAE Foundation Gala

Photo by Jerome Rzucidlo ©

DETROIT — The 2015 SAE Foundation Annual Celebration was held on Tuesday, May 19 at the Masonic Temple in Detroit.  “The ‘AHA’ Moment Starts with You” was this year’s theme.  Daniel Howes, business columnist for The Detroit News, served as the emcee.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne is the 2015 recipient of the Industry Leadership Award.  He was born in Chieti, Italy and began his professional career in Canada.  He’s in his 12th year as a CEO.

“I am fortunate enough to reach the last phase of my career,” Marchionne explained. ” I will not accept the fact that things are the way they are.  We are facing an incredible moment in the automobile industry.  We are beginning to see the signs of recovery.  We are not developing a sense of comfort that the future will remain in this positive framework.  We are recognizing that regulations and competition is not a way of life.” Marchionne discussed driving the automobile industry moving forward.  “The fundamental job of CEO’s is to change peoples lives,” he added.

SAE Foundation Director Lori Gatmaitan spoke about the “AHA” moment of all the students and future engineers.  Everyone sees these moments throughout our lives.  This learning experience is the focus of the SAE Foundation.  Mazen Hammoud, Chairman of the SAE Foundation Board of Trustees, says “We are celebrating our partners and leaders who inspire us.  Tonight, we pay tribute to leadership, dedication and service with Mr. Sergio Marchionne of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles receiving the prestigious Industry Leader of the Year Award.”

General Motors Chief Engineer Mark A. Johnson is the 2015 recipient of the Donald W. Ableson Award for Visionary Leadership.  Johnson’s 33-year career with GM spans two continents and a variety of leadership roles in vehicle engineering, development, quality and program management.  During his tenure, and despite a lingering economic crisis, he helped establish a strategic plan, guided its execution, and set new fundraising records in support of SAE’s award-winning STEM education programs.

Randy Jackson, Senior Vice President at KMMG (Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia), is the recipient of the Gordon Millar Award.  “We’ve been selling cars for 21 years,” he said. “We built our large facility in Georgia and we’re doing fantastic.  The reason we are doing fantastic is we have a great team.”  Innovation and continuous improvement are key elements of the company’s Kia Way philosophy and the A World in Motion program exemplifies these principles in its curriculum design and delivery, in its ability to create the next generation of innovators.

Dr. Maria Cristina Herrera, Senior Engineer at Caterpillar Inc., is the co-recipient of the Stefan Pischinger Young Industry Leadership Award.  Dr. Herrara is a strong leader who led a team to define a progression of technology developments, including four new technology projects.  She conducted a competitive assessment within this technology area that initiated the expansion of an external partnership. “I have found a new passion,” Herrera said. “We must tell our children to learn Science and technology.  I have moved out of my comfort zone and children must do the same.”

Dr. Scott Curran, Research & Development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, also received the Stefan Pischinger Young Industry Leadership Award.  He is recognized for exceptional promise in leadership in the field of sustainable transportation.  Curran is committed to outreach and public education for alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies.  “As a career researcher, I thought that what I’m doing is not going to make a difference in the near future,” he said. “I got this notion in this world that only the smartest people can make a difference.”  However, he found out that is not true.

The joy of learning and giving students the drive and desire for inventing the future, Hammoud said.  This is what its all about.  So many ‘AHA’ moments starts with you.

Related Story: WATCH: Sergio Marchionne at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit

SAE Foundation Chairman of the Board Mazen Hammoud presenting the Industry Leadership Award to FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne.
Dr. Scott Curran receiving Stefan Pischinger Young Industry Leadership Award (Photo by Jerome Rzucidlo ©


Dr. Maria Cristina Herrera receiving Stefan Pischinger Young Industry Leadership Award (Photo by Jerome Rzucidlo ©


Randy Jackson receiving Gordon Millar Award (Photo by Jerome Rzucidlo ©

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