#LovemySafranjob : « Every new job is a new challenge! »
Since 2018, Gabriel Morales is the Chihuahua (Mexico) site general director. His passion for management has driven his whole career and paved his way since he joined Safran in 2007.
What is your background?
I was born and raised in the Mexcio state of Chihuahua. I studied engineering and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Chihuahua Institute of Technology and later a Master’s degree in Finance with the Tec Milenio University of Monterrey. I joined Labinal (now Safran Electrical & Power) as an intern. I was first assigned to engineering missions, which quickly led to management positions.
What drove you towards management?
In 2008 after finishing my internship, I was assigned to support as Manufacturing Engineer for the production of the wiring for the Airbus A320 and A330 programs. This was a crucial and complex program, which included technology transfers from France to Mexico. Then, I was offered the opportunity to become an Engineering Leader. It implied managing a team, which was a strong interest of mine. I have carried on along that line ever since, with an ever broader scope: first as Program Manager for the Boeing 787 in 2013, then as General Manager of Chihuahua Plant 1 (Airbus) in 2015, then Chihuahua Plant 4 (business jets, helicopters, and military), and eventually as General Director of the Safran Electrical & Power Chihuahua campus in 2018, covering multiple facilities.
Which are the biggest challenges you have had to face in your career?
Every job is a new challenge! One of the most important I had to face was the Boeing 787 program when I took responsibility as Program Manager in 2013. It was very ambitious, as our goal was to increase the equipment production from the rate of 4 to 10 planes per month. To achieve that, we had to increase our workforce considerably. This meant we had to manage simultaneously big volumes and the site growth, while also improving quality and productivity. Another important challenge, was to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and the drop in orders that ensued. We had no other choice than to reduce our workforce and close a plant. It was a painful decision, but it was the right thing to do: it allowed us to protect what jobs we could as we restructured to prepare the future. Today, we are back on track to help the aerospace industry restart and to ensure the growth of the three Chihuahua plants.
Why is leadership the key to efficient management?
When managing a team, leadership is crucial because decisions need to be understood. Otherwise, they are in danger of being ineffective. To be a manager means to be part of a team, one in which every team member plays a part. It is true in a production plant; it is also true for a project. This is one of the reasons why I act as a mentor within the Management Development Program implemented by Safran University; I also contributed to the ITESM* Executive Leadership program. I have always loved to be a team leader to help others reach their goals. When I was in college, I headed the amateur theatrical group and coached our soccer team. Actually, soccer remains a passion, since I am still the coach of the Safran Chihuahua soccer team!
Does this involvement reflect in your personal life?
Definitely. Chihuahua is one of Mexico’s biggest industrial areas, and the major companies present there have set up a Council for Industry to contribute to the city’s social and economic development. I am the Safran representative in this council, and I held the position of Secretary for the Council last year.
What about the future?
I have been lucky enough to evolve quickly in a field I am passionate about. I also had the opportunity to travel frequently, in France, Germany, Morocco, the USA, and Brazil. This helped me understand other cultures and better understand the importance of Safran worldwide. However, I took my present position in March 2018 and then COVID-19 happened. Today, we are beginning to emerge from that crisis, and we have to prepare the future. Presently, it is my primary goal to support the evolution of the business, and it is too early to think about my personal future. Only one thing is sure: I want it to be with Safran.
*Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education
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- © Pierre Soissons / Safran