SAE International 2019 President Paul Mascarenas
(VarnHagen/Ford)

An OBE for the SAE

Meet Paul Mascarenas, SAE International’s 2019 president. He’s a staunch advocate for professional development for engineers amid the mobility industry’s transformation.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that someone who joined a professional engineering society at age 16 would eventually lead one. And so, Paul Mascarenas seems an ideal fit as SAE International’s 2019 president. It’s been more than 30 years since he joined the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in his native Britain as a student. Since then Mascarenas (at CES, above, in 2013) has distinguished himself in many industry-leadership roles, including chief technical officer at Ford Motor Co. from 2011 to 2014.

“I’m tremendously excited to serve as the SAE president,” Mascarenas, an SAE and IMechE Fellow, told SAE Update during a visit to SAE headquarters in Pittsburgh. “It’s an excitement in the sense of having the opportunity to really contribute to the profession that has served me so well over the course of my career,” which in recent years has included the emerging mobility-technology environment.

Mascarenas is a staunch advocate of professional development, which he continued through his SAE membership after relocating from the U.K. to the U.S. midcareer. Serving in a leadership position at SAE where he aims to contribute to the professional development of the next generation of engineers “is for me very natural,” he offered.

Before rising to the CTO position at Ford, Mascarenas served in various engineering, planning, manufacturing-launch and even marketing roles—three- to four-year assignments with enormous responsibilities, he explained. His experience began in Europe on the $6 billion Mondeo program and spanned many more, including development and launch of the Super Duty F-Series pickup, when he was VP of North American vehicle programs. He was also 2014-2016 President of FISITA.

Among his many career honors, Mascarenas in 2015 was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the automotive industry—the first SAE president to be so acclaimed.

SAE and the mobility transition

Since leaving Ford four years ago, Mascarenas has expanded his perspective on the mobility industry through diverse new relationships. He serves on the corporate boards of ON Semiconductor, BorgWarner, U.S. Steel, and Spartan Motors Michigan, a maker of emergency-response equipment.

He also joined Fontinalis Partners, a Detroit-based venture capital firm which invests in “startups and early-stage companies that are into pretty much all aspects of next-generation mobility”—from enabling technologies such as mobile payments systems, data management platforms, telematics and cybersecurity, to direct-consumer services such as rideshare, bikeshare, and freight and logistics.

He noted that such a broad and deep professional vantage point allows him “to see through a different lens this sort of ecosystem that is so quickly emerging around next-gen mobility and the way this space is continually being reinvented"—valuable assets to bring to the SAE presidency and the SAE board of directors, on which he also serves.

Mascarenas asserted that SAE International, as a member organization and as a group, must be prepared for “the huge transition that this industry is going through right now, from the traditionally defined automotive, aerospace, and commercial vehicle sectors to one which is much more defined around integrated mobility.” This transition, he said, “requires a different approach with respect to, potentially, the products and services that SAE International is providing to its members.”

While the transition dictates new skillsets for engineers working in the traditional vehicle-development and technology areas, it also potentially appeals to a different membership group for SAE—"not at the expense of existing members,” Mascarenas noted, “but in a more expanded group.

“For example, connectivity would be one area I would immediately think of,” he said. “But there are a number of other technologies—data analytics and controls come to mind—that traditionally have not played a major part in SAE International’s business but now become a very integral part, when you start to think about this more expanded definition of mobility and integration between our traditional sectors.”

Adapting to change

As this transformation progresses, Mascarenas believes SAE’s three classic industry sectors—automotive, commercial vehicle, and aerospace—will converge more, driven by consumers’ expectations of a seamless, connected experience in point-to-point mobility and related services. This convergence, itself enabled by data and analytics, is already impacting SAE’s annual business plan and its objective of sustainable growth.

For SAE, it means “ensuring that we are investing in the future, ensuring we’ve got the right skills and experience on the SAE Staff. Now, the industry itself has to navigate through this themselves because, from a corporate perspective, it impacts the revenue model, the business model,” Mascarenas opined. “Potentially, you go from selling discrete products and services to selling into a sharing economy. This is clearly not a flip-the-switch-type transition. It’s going to happen over many years.”

SAE International historically has demonstrated great adaptability to keep pace with industry changes. Continuing to adapt “is one of our most important challenges and considerations for the Board now,” Mascarenas said. “It’s certainly one of the things I’ll be spending a lot of time on.”

Blending his career experiences into the SAE President role “gives me broad perspective about the business of SAE International," he said. "I'm very excited to now be part of the SAE leadership team.”

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