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Mebarek Yahyaoui has been appointed Vice President and General Manager EMEA for the Monroe Ride Solutions business of global automotive supplier Tenneco Inc. The Monroe Ride Solutions business includes advanced electronic suspension systems marketed under the Monroe Intelligent Suspension brand and passive shock absorbers offered under the Monroe OE Solutions brand. The business serves leading global automotive and commercial vehicle OEMs as well as other customers worldwide.

Mebarek joined Tenneco in September 2000 as Customer Quality Engineer for the company’s Clean Air segment. Since then he has been appointed to several increasingly responsible positions in the areas of Quality, Supplier Development and Purchasing. Immediately prior to assuming his present role, he was Executive Director, Purchasing for the Monroe Ride Solutions business.

Mr. Yahyaoui:

  • What were your dreams and goals as a student?

First of all, remember that dreams and goals evolve over time and each individual journey is unique. My aspirations at that time were to become a successful entrepreneur, founding my own business and achieving financial independendence.

 In many respects, I bring the same entrepreneurial ideas and energy to everything I do in my roles within Tenneco.

 

  • Then came Tenneco, a company in which you have worked for 24 years: is everything that happened in that period as you had imagined it?

Tenneco has been a fascinating and exciting journey. I joined the company as Customer Quality Engineer in the northeast of France and became a Quality Manager in northern France. While I had envisioned some aspects of each of my roles, the reality has been a blend of surprises, challenges, hard work, and growth.

 No one could have imagined the evolution of Tenneco over the past few decades, with acquisitions, mergers, transformations, departures, arrivals, and the inevitable reshuffling of the deck following each event. Throughout all of these changes, however, our bonds have held firm and we remain strong and engaged, which should tell you how talented, dedicated and resilient the people are within this company.

 

  • We can suppose that during such a long period you have found difficult moments. What is the most negative memory of all this work? What didn’t work and why?

The most difficult moment for me was the closure of our Wimetal facility in Wissembourg, which was the French headquarters of our Clean Air business segment. It is always painful when good people must be let go but it is part of the lifecycle of any company. It was strategically the right thing to do and was an important lesson about the necessity of making difficult decisions for the greater benefit of a company.

 

  • On the contrary, what were the moments of greatest satisfaction?

My greatest satisfaction has come through the process of building new teams from scratch and watching them succeed and grow. Looking back to the people I have met who are either still with the company or have departed for new personal journeys, I recognize and appreciate their important contributions to my own success over the past 24 years. They have helped make me the leader who is standing before you today.

 

  • The new frontiers of electronics have brought enormous progress in the automotive suspension sector. But today, how much is “business” and how much “mission” in your work.

In every evolving business, including Automotive suspension, where electronics and mechanical precision are tied together, there is a delicate and fascinating balance between business and mission.

 If you look to the business first, you realize that the gears of commerce are perpetual – profit margin, market share, and shareholder value. These represent the foundation of our business objectives, driving virtually every decision, including cost optimization measures, enhancing supply chain resilience and other strategic initiatives.

 The mission, by contrast, defines our purpose in our markets and the positive impact we strive to achieve in this changing world. As an example, we are committed to enabling a smoother, more precise, enjoyable and safe ride experience in partnership with OEMs and other customers. We achieve this by continually exploring new ideas and developing innovative active and passive damping solutions. We also think beyond product performance by utilizing advanced, lightweight materials and eco-conscious designs and processes for a sustainable future.

 Both need to be managed in harmony, so it is difficult for me to say how much is business and how much is mission. A challenge for me is to ensure that our mission doesn’t drown in a sea of spreadsheets.

 

  • What do you think is the greatest and concrete advantage brought by Monroe Intelligent Suspension systems?

 

The Monroe Intelligent Suspension portfolio includes an array of highly advanced, scalable solutions that empower OEMs to deliver world-class ride experiences across a full range of vehicle types. In all cases, these technologies provide comfortable, controlled and safe rides that help optimize enjoyment and pride of ownership.

 Our most sophisticated electronic suspension technology is the CVSA2/Kinetic system, which is ushering in an entirely new era of comfort, control and versatility for the owners of SUVs and premium level sports cars. This technology provides virtually instantaneous adaptive response, meaning the system adjusts damping forces in real time to address changing road conditions and terrain.

 This system doesn’t guess; it computes, with multiple sensors feeding a control module that applies the proprietary Monroe algorithm to fine-tune the adaptative supension to the vehicle’s changing environment.

 Last but not least, our technologies enable drivers to personalize ride and handling characteristics to their respective preferences in any driving situation.

 The breadth of technologies and proven capabilities of these systems demonstrate that our engineers in Europe are the best in the market in terms of creativity and innovation.

 I must add that we are also a global leader in passive suspension technologies. In fact, our Monroe OE Solutions portfolio is helping OEMs achieve previously unimagined levels of ride quality and driver enjoyment.

 

  • Frankly speaking, do you believe that a “normal” driver is capable of understanding how an “intelligent” suspension works? And how much could this guide his purchasing choices?

In the context of a passive shock absorber I am with you in the difficulty of clearly explaining all of the mechanical factors that affect suspension performance.

 If we’re speaking about active suspension technologies, there is a definitive difference between the ride experience in a vehicle without an active suspension and the “WOW” factor one experiences with Monroe Intelligent Suspension. As just two examples, when you accelerate or brake, you experience a significant difference in terms of driver feedback and control through our adaptive technologies.

 On the subject of customer choice, I would say that when you try Monroe Intelligent Suspension technology with the right level of awareness, you cannot leave the vehicle dealership without having the system in your new car.

 

  • What is your unfulfilled “dream” for the electronic suspension category? What concrete development should we expect for the automotive suspension sector?

 

We are in the midst of a cultural change where electronics and connectivity have become the key factors for any vehicle technology development.

 At the same time, the fact that vehicle suspension technologies are not considered safety critical is a mystery to me. The way our products influence chassis control, driver comfort and overall safety in any driving situation is simply remarkable.

 This not a dream but a fact that active suspension technology will become predominant in the Automotive sector. Vehicle electrification requires a smoother, more intelligent suspension to manage these heavier cars.

In addition, autonomous driving will require greater chassis control and predictability of changing road conditions. Our proprietary algorithms will stand apart through their ability to “read” the road signs, predict pedestrians and navigate chaos.

 On the safety side, I foresee revolutionary progress through the combination of a vehicle’s airbags, ABS and stability control systems. But suppliers will need to innovate even more, and faster, with new generations of sensors that measure body response.

 Algorithm and sensor development is key to driving precision in all we do in chassis control, thereby increasing the responsiveness of the suspension in any unexpected conditions or situations.

 My unfulfilled dream is to see these developments not as isolated achievements but as integrated innovations and meaningful benefits through which “business” and “mission” come together for a truly sustainable future.

 Perhaps, one day, as I ride in an autonomous car while enjoying a beautiful sunset, I’ll be able to remind myself that “Monroe helped make this

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