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Alum and CEO Drives Tenneco’s Eco-Friendly Reputation

By Grace Beck, student writer

A leader in design, engineering, and a manufacturer of clean air technology, Tenneco, led by CEO Brian Kesseler (BA ’88 Finance), has outpaced the industry production twofold over the past 10 years.

Kesseler returned to the Broad College of Business for the Pung Executive Speaker Series to share insights and expertise with Full-Time MBA students. Kesseler joined Tenneco in January 2015 as the CEO, is a member Tenneco’s Board of Directors, as well as serving on the Broad College Alumni Advisory Board.

Tenneco is a leading supplier of replacement parts, with a specific focus on clean air and ride performance. The company has over 31,000 employees, and operates 91 manufacturing facilities and 15 engineering and technical centers around the world.

Addressing major transformations in the automotive industry, including emission regulations, hybrids, and autonomous driving, Kessler discussed how Tenneco adjusted to the countless modernizations and innovation. He explained the importance of a company’s brand – especially in the auto industry.

Kessler outlined Tenneco’s topmost priorities as both a company and a brand:

-Deliver: the three-year operating plan-performance acceleration

-Invest: capture growth- future focused investments

-Build: team and leader development

Reflecting on the team effort to maintain the company, Kesseler states, “if you do not invest in your team and your leaders, you will fail. The power of a company is when it comes together as a team and focuses on top priorities as a team.”

While the company keeps its eyes on overarching priorities, Kesseler said that Tenneco doesn’t follow a “set-in-stone strategy,” but manages changes and goals on a day-to-day basis. Strategies must evolve during different life cycles of your business, he explained.

Hi Tran, a FTMBA student, followed Kesseler’s advice closely when reflecting on her takeaways. “Keep an open mind for new market trends and be prepared for it,” she said.

Kesseler addressed MBA students with interest in pursuing a career path in the auto industry with a few pieces of advice: “Learn data analytics, and how that relates to the supply chain. This is the new frontier for the automotive industry and understanding those dynamics are key.”


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