Exceptional leaders are individuals who go above and beyond what is expected of them in terms of leadership. They possess exceptional qualities and abilities that set them apart from others, including a clear vision, strong decision-making skills, and the ability to inspire and motivate their team. Jacques Fourie, Vice President and Managing Director of Bridgestone Middle East and Africa, is one such exceptional leader.
Over the years, Jacques has been fortunate to come across a range of professional opportunities and outstanding mentors who have shaped his personality, improved his thinking, and strengthened his leadership abilities. At age 14, the versatile leader began working as a storeroom packer, but his career really took off when he joined Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) as an articled clerk. Jacques then progressed to a number of senior positions at Cummins Inc., where he worked in finance, operations, sales, and marketing across several nations, including Ghana, the USA, Mexico, Canada, and South Africa. This priceless experience has been important in helping him hone his leadership abilities and become the leader he is today. Hence, his leadership style is focused on creating strong, diverse teams and leaders to create extraordinary results and boost shareholder value.
After 15 years, Jacques left Cummins, and in July 2019, he was appointed CEO of Bridgestone Southern Africa. Since then, the dynamic leader has focused on reclaiming South Africa’s position as a leading market by streamlining all aspects of their operations, including sales and manufacturing. He has also worked towards fostering a strong culture that is supported by a diverse workforce of motivated and passionate individuals who are led by a talented and supportive leadership team. In addition to his responsibilities as CEO, he has also led Bridgestone MEA as the Vice President and Managing Director.
Presently, Jacques is in charge for operations in MEA and South Africa, including the Supa Quick retail chain and Otraco Mining solutions business. His primary objective is to ensure the company’s adaptability to market changes and execute the business strategy. He has extensive experience in various tyre business verticals, and a deep understanding of the South African tyre and automotive industry.
Evolving From a Premium Tyre Producer to a Mobility Solutions Provider
Bridgestone offers innovative and sustainable mobility solutions to meet the evolving demands of its customers. The company recognises the growing importance of ensuring a sustainable future and has been exploring various approaches to innovate its products and surpass industry standards. Sustainability is a top priority for the company, and it strives to use eco-friendly tyre technologies in all its projects.
Under Jacques’ leadership, Bridgestone aspires to be an industry leader in developing a waste-free mobility sector, and believes collaboration and innovation to be key factors in achieving this goal. The company has joined the Sustainability Network, which is run by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and has also formed relationships with other several other companies. Additionally, in an effort to reduce the overconcentration of rubber production in various places, the company has launched research and development projects to investigate sustainable supplies of natural rubber.
Experts in the automotive industry believe that electric vehicles will be the next big thing in the industry, as a result of which, Jacques and his team are already working to manufacture cutting-edge EV tyres. In fact, Bridgestone EMIA designed 30% of its new OE fitments exclusively for EVs in 2020. They also developed the ologic technology, especially for the BMW i3 electric vehicle. Its cutting-edge Enliten technology and Virtual Tyre Modelling solution further demonstrate the company’s commitment to sustainability.
“Our mobility solutions enable a circular economy. Smart-sensing technologies like our IntelliTire1 and iTrack II tyre management platforms help maximise each tyre’s time in service. Longer tyre life means fewer resources are consumed producing new tyres, and lesser CO2 emissions are emitted from the production of new tyres. In addition, fleet management solutions, such as the WEBFLEET platform offered by Bridgestone’s Webfleet Solutions business, will play an increasingly important role in driving safety and efficiency improvements for the transportation industry globally, as well as the realisation of a carbon-neutral society. These advanced solutions will work hand-in-hand with our world-class Bandag Retread business. In the future, we believe retreading can be expanded to include tyres in fast-growing segments, such as last-mile delivery. The Group’s technology innovation is driven by the combination of strong Real X Digital to generate outstanding product and solutions that promote social and customer value,” says Jacques.
“A life mantra that I truly believe in and practice in my own life is to live your legacy every day, to be the best version of yourself, and most importantly, to be remembered for your kindness, compassion, and empathy.”
Jacques’ leadership philosophy revolves around empowering others to become better leaders through effective coaching and mentoring. He prioritises the development of a solid leadership culture within his team, believing that a team is the most valuable asset in any organisation. He aims to help each team member recognise their true potential and grow in their leadership journey, while also prioritising their well-being and comfort. Jacques is also committed to fostering the growth and development of young talent within the company.
According to Jacques, the goal for 2023 is to maintain Bridgestone’s commitment towards growth, sustainability, innovation, and new potential business areas. Furthermore, the versatile leader believes that by evolving business activities in their core, growth, and exploratory businesses, the company will continue to drive its journey to realise the 8 ‘E’s, which are Energy, Ecology, Efficiency, Extension, Economy, and Ease.
Maintain the Perfect Balance
“First and foremost, I am a husband, as well as a father to three daughters. I do not shy away from family obligations simply because a job is calling. Through experience, I have recognised the importance of this balance for my family, team, and the business,” says Jacques. The seasoned leader has always recognised the importance of balancing work and personal life. During his leisure time, Jacques aims to be fully present with his family, and believes in work-life integration rather than work-life balance. He also believes in modelling a balanced life for his team and in leadership that extends beyond the workplace.