Ryan Laskey, 44
Senior vice president commercial vehicle drive and motion systems, Dana Inc.
Big break: A promotion to chief engineer in charge of engineering the all-wheel-drive axle for Ford Motor Co.
Present an engineer with a vexing technical problem and tell them there is little time or money to solve it, and chances are the solution will be robust, affordable and delivered on time.
That’s the quality senior leaders at Dana Inc., the Tier 1 axle and driveline parts manufacturer, saw in Ryan Laskey that made him one of the youngest members of the company’s executive team.
Laskey’s first promotion, to chief engineer, came in 2005, just five years after joining Dana as an intern while he was finishing his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Toledo. That degree, combined with an MBA from Purdue University, helped Laskey continue to advance to leadership roles with greater responsibility.
“Engineers are traditionally in very technically focused roles,” he said. “What they saw in me is that I could address the technical nature but also had a good grasp of business. That could be understanding the financial ramifications as well as having the ability to clearly communicate the technical strategy.”
In Dana’s field of gear manufacturing, warranty claims as a result of quality issues can quickly chew up profitability. Laskey developed a modified version of a design review process that focused on delivering flawless launches. The approach is now used on the company’s light- and commercial-vehicle driveline business.
Laskey also led an effort to place Dana engineers on-site at automakers to monitor potential issues and quickly address them. Problems dropped to fewer than 20 parts per million.
That’s not bad for a guy who says he is not a car guy.
Many of his Dana colleagues wrench on high-horsepower classic or modern sports cars, but Laskey says you won’t find him under a vehicle after work and on weekends.
“I am very business-focused,” he said. “How can we make this work? How can we make money? How do we get the best talent working for us?
“In my spare time, my three boys are all extremely active in sports. My one hobby is my children and their sports. I coach them in baseball. From March through July,” he said, “I am on a baseball field six or seven times a week.”
— Richard Truett