Jun Ham, 43
Platform director, Just-In-Time Seating, Lear Corp.
Big break: Switching from purchasing to sales and using the negotiating skills learned in dealing with Lear’s suppliers
Who better to put in charge of a major seating program for a new generation of full-size pickups and SUVs than an engineer with an MBA who studied the science of matching technologies with user interfaces and human capabilities? Jun Ham is that man at Lear, where the 17-year company veteran is overseeing the delivery of one of the most technically complex seating systems the company has ever engineered.
The automobile seat is no longer just metal, foam and cloth, he noted. As with other parts of the vehicle, it’s now packed with electronics and sensors and plays a far larger role in safety than ever before.
Ham says his engineering background, combined with a passion for nurturing the careers of his colleagues, are keys to his success. “The background of technical skills helps with problem-solving,” he said. “The heart of what we do is build seats and electronics and electrical distribution systems. It’s important for people to understand how it works in the environment of the interior of the vehicle.”
Delivering the new seating system is Ham’s biggest challenge yet.
“Earlier in my career, I was always part of the launch team, but not directly responsible for all aspects of the launch — the engineering, product, manufacturing, sales, quality and the human resources element,” Ham said. “Now, I am responsible for everything, the entire platform.”
A part of the job he relishes is being a coach and mentor. He often counsels colleagues to take risks, just as he did when he switched from purchasing to sales.
“It is fulfilling for me to see people I have worked with get promoted and get the opportunities that I’ve had that really get them out of their comfort zones,” he says.
With vehicles taking on more self-driving capabilities, seats are becoming a bigger part of the overall safety ecosystem. Some of Lear’s technology includes monitoring the driver’s condition and configuring seats to reduce injuries when an accident can’t be avoided.
Says Ham: “I feel the way the industry is changing, going from gas to electric and the automated driving opportunities that are out there, is exciting. Lear is well positioned to take advantage of the changes.”
— Richard Truett