John Ruterbusch, 40
Executive director of sales and marketing for North America, Continental Structural Plastics
Big break: Moving from an engineering role at Takata to a technical marketing and sales position at DuPont
John Ruterbusch’s professional path has taken him from engineering to sales and marketing and from airbags to composites.
His diverse automotive career started with an engineering co-op position at Delphi one week after graduating from high school and before he had started taking college courses.
His work experience at a young age, which continued with summer internships at Delphi during his college years, put him on a trajectory that brought him to his current role as executive director of sales and marketing for North America at Continental Structural Plastics, a Teijin Group company.
“That gave me a significant advantage compared to a lot of my peers, especially coming out of college, because I had so much experience,” Ruterbusch said. “At the end of the day, what younger people hopefully understand is that work experience is so critical upfront as early as possible. It allowed me to understand what I like, what I didn’t like, much sooner in my career than a lot of other people. I can’t stress the importance of that experience enough.”
Ruterbusch graduated from Michigan State University with an engineering degree and moved to his first full-time engineering job as a product engineer at Takata, where he worked his way up to becoming a lead engineer and later engineering manager.
After becoming a seasoned engineer at Takata, Ruterbusch formed a new goal: to be a business leader. That desire led him to DuPont, where he took a position as a business development manager in the company’s performance materials group.
Moving from engineering to technical marketing and sales allowed his career to take off, Ruterbusch said.
“It was kind of the perfect segue,” he said. “I still had to use a lot of my engineering understanding while also developing commercial proposals and business cases. It was the perfect fit for my background plus what I wanted to do.”
Ruterbusch three years ago joined composites specialist Continental Structural Plastics as director of business development, inheriting a customer with which the supplier didn’t have much of a relationship.
But through two and a half years filled with lots of communication, transparency and being proactive, Ruterbusch helped turn the relationship around and was awarded a large exterior component program from the customer.
“It was a complete 180 from where we were when I joined,” he said. “We have a great relationship now today.”
— Jack Walsworth