After joining Johnson Controls in 1999 and working as a manufacturing engineer for three years, Griffin Brown switched gears.
The graduate of the University of Michigan with a mechanical engineering degree was handed a finance assignment.
“I went from doing floor consoles in a plant to doing trim costing for seating,” said Brown, now vice president of FCA customer group at Adient, which spun off from Johnson Controls in 2016.
“I didn’t know much about finances at the time, but that [position] was more about learning a new product and the way cost drivers that went into building up the overall cost of that product [worked].”
Brown became JCI’s finance director in 2008. He says his engineering background was beneficial.
“In manufacturing you look at utilization and efficiencies and things like that from a manufacturing point of view,” he said.
“When I got into trim costing … they talked about the material utilizations and the cutting efficiencies and things like that. It was the same concept but different principles around it, and I could use what I knew from manufacturing to be successful in costing.”
In 2013, Brown was named global commercial finance director. In that job, he had his hand in a host of global programs at JCI, including the Ford F-150, Ranger and Focus. He was tasked with forming a team to manage commercial and financial targets for Ford within their respective regions.
In his current job — which he assumed in November — Brown leads the Adient commercial group for the global seating account for FCA, managing customer relations, business growth and program and project negotiations.
“I don’t just deal with sales but I reach into the sales side, the engineering side and then the operations side because all those areas are very critical as it relates to a relationship between Adient and FCA,” said Brown.
— Anisa Jibrell