US-educated Wang Dazong is one of SAIC Motor Corporation's new secret weapons in its battle for ground in the European car market. In April, China's largest car manufacturer announced plans to export its own brand of cars to Europe in 2007, based on designs from MG Rover. Wang, who will be in charge of technical management and product development, including research and development capabilities for launching SAIC own-brand vehicles, is a crucial addition to the corporation's armoury of talent.
His appointment as vice-president was announced in April. It follows a successful 20-year career at General Motors, which he joined in 1985 and during which time he rose up the ranks from senior engineer to chief engineer, and manager in charge of the decision-making, designing and product development departments. He also has diverse experience in overall vehicle design and development, and in systems administration.
Wang will have a multi-faceted role at SAIC. He will be in charge of technical management and product development, devising the corporation's medium and long-term development programmes and technical guidelines.
He will also build up the system for independent product development, which will include updating the firm's technical management system and working procedures. In addition, he will push forward projects to develop SAIC's own brand cars and new energy models.
Using the strength of the overseas Chinese community is a tried and tested tactic, says Dr Eric Thun of Said Business School, Oxford. "After two decades of being dependent on joint venture partners, the top objective of SAIC is to develop independent design capabilities."
Wang brings with him a raft of qualifications. He has a masters degree from the School of Central China Science and Engineering University, which is renowned for producing high-calibre engineers, and a doctorate from Cornell University's Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
He will conduct his new responsibilities alongside his existing role as general manager of the world's largest and most diversified automotive components supplier, Greater China Operations of Delphi Energy & Engine Management Systems.
"SAIC is bent on becoming an internationally competitive automotive enterprise, which will manufacture its own products and build up its own system for independent innovations. This is what appeals to me. I have always wanted to contribute my bit to the Chinese automotive industry in its effort to enter the world arena," he says.
CV AT A GLANCE ...
1973: Student exchange programme in US
1980: Masters degree, School of Central China Science and Engineering
1984: Doctoral degree, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace
Engineering, Cornell University, New York
1985: Joins General Motors
2006: General manager and chief engineer, Greater China Operations of
Delphi Energy & Engine Management Systems; vice-president, SAIC Motor
IN COMPARISON ... KAZUO OKAMOTO, EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT, TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Like Wang, Kazuo Okamoto has spent his entire working life at one company: Toyota. With a degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Tokyo, he joined the company in 1967. By 1989, Okamoto was chief engineer responsible for vehicle development programmes. In 1992, he assumed the rank of general manager and was the chief engineer for the second-generation Lexus LS 400. Three years later he became general manager of body engineering, Vehicle Development Centre II, and in 1999 he began supervising overseas product development. In 2001 Okamoto was promoted to managing director. In 2003, he was made senior managing director and last year he became executive vice-president. He has been on the board of directors for the past 10 years.
CV AT A GLANCE ...
1967: Degree in aeronautical engineering, University of Tokyo
CAREER AT TOYOTA
1982: Manager in body engineering division
1989: Chief engineer responsible for vehicle development 1992 General
manager and chief engineer, Lexus LS 400
1995: General manager, Vehicle Development Centre
1996: Member of board of directors
1999: Supervisor, overseas product development
2000: Supervisor, Vehicle Development Centre III
2001: Managing director
2003: Senior managing director
2005: Executive vice-president in charge of R&D; executive
vice-president, Calty Design Research, US; director, Toyota Europe