SME announced that Robert “Bob“ Willig has been named as its executive director and CEO. His employment with SME will commence on Jan. 1.

Willig, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the manufacturing industry, has held multiple leadership positions for global divisions within major manufacturing companies, most recently at Stoneridge Inc. where he was president of the Control Devices Division. Prior to Stoneridge, Willig served as president and CEO of Plasan Carbon Composites; before that, he was president, Americas, for GKN Driveline, an automotive industry supplier focused on drive system technologies. Earlier in his career, Willig was president of both Power Transmission and Powertrain at The Gates Corp. He has also served on various boards, including Plasan's Board of Directors, GKN's Chief Executive Council and Gates Corp. Asia’s Board of Directors.

Willig has extensive experience leading teams across multiple cultures, languages, locations and disciplines, which made him an additionally attractive candidate as SME conducted its search.

“Bob’s extensive experience and insights into the manufacturing industry make him an ideal leader for SME during this time of disruptive change in manufacturing,” said 2020 SME President Susan Smyth, PhD, FSME, NAE. “Bob’s ability to focus on long-term strategy even during a challenging economy, his track record of business development success and his values-based leadership will help SME pursue its mission of advancing manufacturing while building a culture for continued success. We're very excited to have him as our new CEO.”

Willig will succeed Sandra Bouckley, FSME, P.Eng., 2017 SME president, who was appointed SME’s executive director and CEO in July 2018. Bouckley, whose exit was long intended, will remain with SME as a leadership transition consultant through March 31.

“I’m passionate about manufacturing and its people,” said Willig. “For nearly 90 years, SME has been a consistent resource for knowledge, connections and supporting the next generation of manufacturing talent. I’m looking forward to working to protect that legacy while charting a new course for this organization as our industry adapts to advanced technology and a post-COVID economy.”

Willig earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical systems design from Lawrence Tech University and an MBA from Wayne State University. He will be based at SME’s headquarters in Southfield, Michigan.

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