MEET THE SPEAKERS2018-09-12T17:37:07+00:00



SAC2018 is proud to present an A-List roster of automotive leaders from across the United States and the world. Below are just a FEW of the can’t-miss Main Stage speakers to be sure to catch at this year’s conference.

Raj Batra
Raj BatraPresident, Digital Factory Division, Siemens
Raj Batra is President of the Digital Factory (DF) Division for Siemens USA. In this role, Batra is responsible for overseeing all development, marketing, sales, R&D, vertical industry and manufacturing aspects for DF in the United States. Joining Siemens in 1993, Batra has held a variety of high-level management, strategy and sales positions including VP, General Manager, Global Corporate Account Executive, and Director and founding member of the Automotive and Aerospace Vertical Market organizations.

In addition to his responsibilities at Siemens, Batra serves on the Executive Advisory Boards of The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI). He is also a Member of the Board of Directors of PI-North America.

Prior to Siemens, Batra worked as a sales engineer developing automation solutions for discrete manufacturing and process industries. Batra earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Lawrence Technological University in Michigan and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Michigan.

Mark Brazeal
Mark BrazealVice President, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A.
Mark Brazeal is the Vice President of Administration at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A. He is responsible for all administration operations of the new joint venture including Human Resources, Safety, Production Control, Environmental, Accounting and External Affairs.
Mazda Toyota Manufacturing will have the capacity to produce 150,000 units of Mazda’s new crossover model and 150,000 units of the Toyota Corolla. The facility will employ 4,000 team members with a $1.6B investment.
Mr. Brazeal comes to Mazda Toyota Manufacturing from Toyota Motor North America, where he served in General Manager roles at the company’s engine plants in Alabama and West Virginia. He joined Toyota in 2002 as Manager of Corporate Administration, then became Manager of Engineering followed by General Manager of Administration and General Manager of Manufacturing.
His current and past community involvement and board activities include President of the Alabama Automotive Manufacturer’s Association, the Career and Technical Education Commission by the Alabama State Board of Education, and board membership of the Alabama Productivity Center.
Before his career at Toyota, Mr. Brazeal worked in manufacturing positions with Fruit of the Loom and Webasto Roof Systems, a tier one supplier of sunroofs and roof systems for the automotive industry.
Mr. Brazeal is a 1991 graduate of the University of Alabama.
Stuart Countess
Stuart CountessChief Administrative Officer/Director, Quality Subdivision, KIA/KMMG
Stuart Countess is the Chief Administrative Officer for Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG). In this position, Countess is responsible for leading the Human Resources and Administration Division including Team Relations, Public Relations, Safety and Security, Environmental, General Affairs, Legal and Sales.

He previously served as the Vice President of Quality overseeing overall vehicle quality for the Kia Sorento, Kia Optima and Hyundai Santa Fe as well as supplier quality, process quality, customer satisfaction, warranty and ISO/TS certifications for Business Management Systems. Originally, Countess joined KMMG in 2008 as the senior manager for the General Assembly Shop.

Countess came to KMMG from Mercedes Benz US International in Vance, Ala. where, for more than 13 years, he served in numerous leadership positions within production and quality including being the supplier quality manager, quality manager and assembly manager. In those roles he was responsible for vehicle assembly, supplier quality, overall vehicle quality, process quality, customer satisfaction and warranty.

He is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Electrical Engineering and received his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from LaGrange College.

Countess is proud to have raised 4 grown children. He and his wife, Dana, reside in LaGrange, Georgia.

Governor Nathan Deal
Governor Nathan DealGovernor, State of Georgia
Since taking office in 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal has led Georgia to become the No. 1 state in the nation for business for five years in a row – a first in Georgia history – and helped create more than 675,000 private sector jobs. In the last six years, Georgia’s job growth has outpaced the national average while its population has jumped from 10th to 8th nationally.
Through tax reform, workforce development initiatives and investment in education and infrastructure, the state continues to grow local small businesses and attract top companies from around the world. During Gov. Deal’s tenure, Georgia has become a global destination for companies in a wide range of industries. Under Deal’s leadership, Georgia has produced seven balanced budgets, saved millions of taxpayer dollars by maintaining Georgia’s AAA bond rating and grown the Rainy Day Reserve Fund to $2.3 billion.
A Sandersville native, Deal served in the U.S. Army at Fort Gordon in Augusta after graduating with college and law degrees with honors from Mercer University. He then began a private law practice in Gainesville, the hometown of his wife, Sandra Deal. While his wife taught in Hall County public schools, Deal began a career in public service, working as a prosecutor, judge, state senator and U.S. Congressman for Georgia’s 9th District. He was elected Georgia’s 82nd governor in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. The Deals have four adult children and six grandchildren.
Linda Hasenfratz
Linda HasenfratzCEO, Linamar
Linda Hasenfratz is the Chief Executive Officer of Linamar Corporation. Hasenfratz joined her father’s company in 1990 and worked her way up from the ground floor, experiencing all aspects of the business including running a machine, engineering and operations management. Since her tenure as the Chief Executive Officer started, Hasenfratz has grown the company from an $800 million enterprise to over a $6.5 billion company. Hasenfratz sits on various boards including CIBC, the Business Council of Canada, Faurecia, Catalyst Canada as well as philanthropic boards such at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Philanthropy Leadership Cabinet of the Guelph General Hospital. In 2017 Hasenfratz was appointed by the Prime Minister to co-chair the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders. Throughout her career she has been honoured through various awards including the 2014 National Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Canada. In May of 2016 Linda Hasenfratz, along with her father Frank Hasenfratz, was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. In addition she has been honoured by various universities and institutes for her leadership including the University of Winnipeg, the Fraser Institute, the University of Victoria, Wilfrid Laurier University, Ryerson University, Fanshawe College and her alma mater the University of Western Ontario Ivey School of Business. She was also honoured by both France and Hungary for contirubitons to those countries with their highest civilian honours.Ms. Hasenfratz supports one of Linamar’s key industries, the automotive industry, through her appointment as the first female director to the Faurecia Board of Directors, a French automotive supplier, in 2011. Hasenfratz has been named one of the Automotive News 100 Leading Women in each year of its publication in 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015.
Kevin McAtamney
Kevin McAtamneyQuality Director, Volvo Cars
Kevin joined Volvo Cars in March 2018 as quality director. He is responsible for ensuring customer satisfaction by securing and monitoring the correct implementation of the quality operating system, and developing quality assurance procedures at Volvo Cars’ first U.S. manufacturing plant in Ridgeville, S.C.

Prior to Volvo Cars, Kevin spent 17 years at General Motors, serving in various management positions including quality system manager, senior global program manager for Advanced Propulsion, senior global IT manufacturing and quality manager, and senior quality engineer. He also managed safety for the construction of Motorola’s Harvard facility, and served as production supervisor at Motorola.

Kevin received his Master’s degree in Safety Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Supervision, Management and Safety from Central Michigan University.

Dr. Hagen Radowski
Dr. Hagen RadowskiPresident and CEO, MHP Americas/Porsche
Dr. Hagen Radowski is President & CEO of MHP Americas Inc. headquartered at One Porsche Drive in Atlanta, Georgia, and is also a partner with the MHP Group in Stuttgart, Germany, both consulting subsidiaries of Porsche AG, the German sports car manufacturer. He is a regular speaker at industry events with a focus on how the digital paradigm shift is rapidly changing not only the automotive ecosystem.
With more than 2,600 employees, MHP is leading the digital business transformation by providing management- and IT-consulting services, primarily to manufacturing companies with a special focus on original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as well as automotive suppliers.
Before joining MHP as a partner in 2012, Radowski co-founded two process- and IT-consulting companies himself, BERATA in 1986 and Infomotion in 2008. Hagen holds an MBA from University of Virginia’s Darden Business School. He received a Doctor of Economics from the University of Siegen, Germany and also has a bachelor’s degree in Business Informatics from the Berufsakademie in Stuttgart.
Gary Silberg
Gary SilbergNational Sector Lead Partner for the Automotive Industry/Global Lead Partner for Delphi Corporation and Ford Motor Company, KPMG
Gary is the National Automotive Industry Leader for KPMG, as well as the Global Lead Partner for Ford Motor Company. Gary has 25+ years of business experience, including over 15 years in the automotive industry.
Gary has advised numerous domestic and multinational companies in areas of strategy, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures. His specific focus includes helping clients identify and evaluate new investment and growth strategies from technology start-up companies to large scale multibillion dollar investments. For the past seven years, he has focused on the intersection of technology and the automotive industry with groundbreaking research on Self-Driving Cars, connectivity and mobility demand services.
He has also worked on some of the most complex and strategic transactions in the industry. In particular, Gary has worked as an advisor to Ford Motor Company on its three most recent divestitures: Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover, and its Volvo divestiture. Mr. Silberg has also advised Chrysler Corporation as part of its transaction with Fiat. He also has extensive knowledge and experience working with tier 1 automotive suppliers including their aftermarket businesses. He has assisted several start-up automotive companies in developing their long-term strategies and business plans.
Gary is the chair of the annual Executive Automotive Share Forum Series, conducted in parallel with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and Los Angeles. He has written extensively about the industry and also often provides media commentary on global trends in the automotive industry, including The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Reuters, Fortune, Forbes, Bloomberg, Wired, The Silicon Valley Business Journal, CNN Money, Industry Week, Outlook Business of India, China Auto and Yomiuri Shimbun of Japan.
Jack Sisk
Jack SiskConsultant, Auburn University, College of Engineering Industrial And Systems Engineering
Jack is an automotive consultant working with Auburn University, College of Engineering Industrial and Systems supporting their efforts in manufacturing initiatives in the automotive sector. Jack has over 30 years’ experience in the automotive industry and began his career in the automotive industry in 1983 as a Statistical Process Control Coordinator with General Motors in the Athens, Alabama Operations. In 1988 he was offered an opportunity to join a new venture at General Motors, Project Saturn, and was involved in the development, startup and launch of the Saturn Corporation. Jack was a leader in the Purchasing and Supplier Quality/Development organization which had responsibility for the sourcing selection and quality management of the supply chain for over 20 years. Jack retired from GM/Saturn Corporation in 2009 and accepted an opportunity with The University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service as a consultant to support their economic development initiatives in the automotive sector.

In recent years Jack’s efforts primarily target the automotive industry in the Southeastern United States and work with the automotive manufacturing associations (AMA’s) in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and South Carolina. There is great interest in the region to identify new high potential technologies and bring them front and center to the industry for potential partnering and development opportunities. Other responsibilities include working closely with automotive industry leaders to identify areas that they need assistance and with state universities and other technical research institutions to find and or develop solutions for these problems. Jack’s educational background include Martin Methodist College, Columbia State Community College, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Jack and his wife Elizabeth have three children, Courtney, Christopher and Chad and have been married for 38 years.

Jonathan Smoke
Jonathan SmokeChief Economist, Cox Automotive
Jonathan Smoke is chief economist for Cox Automotive, where he leads the company’s economic industry insights team, which leverages data to expand Cox Automotive’s deep expertise in all aspects of the automotive industry. Smoke and his team track new and used vehicle sales, supply, prices, retail and fleet demand, consumer credit and auto financing, and dealer sentiment to understand the key trends impacting both the wholesale and retail markets for vehicles informed by the proprietary data from all of the company’s businesses and platforms including Manheim, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, and Dealertrack.
For more than 23 years, Smoke has focused on translating data and trends into relevant, actionable insights for the industries that represent the biggest purchases that consumers make in their lifetimes: real estate and automotive.
Prior to joining Cox Automotive, Smoke served as’s chief economist. Before that, he was the chief economist for Hanley Wood, a media and market intelligence company focused on construction, and also served in a variety of roles at Beazer Homes, including senior vice president of strategy and innovation.
Smoke is an executive member of the board for the Atlanta Economics Club and an active member of the Harvard Industrial Economists and the National Association of Business Economists. He has spoken at major industry conferences such as the NADA and NIADA conventions, Automotive News World Congress, and Used Car Week. His views on the economy and the auto industry are featured regularly in industry and national news outlets such as Automotive News, Auto Remarketing, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Bloomberg, and CNBC. Follow him on Twitter @SmokeonCars to keep up with the latest industry insights.
Smoke holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and religious studies from Rhodes College and a master’s degree in business from The University of Texas at Austin.
Mike Stonecipher
Mike StonecipherSenior Project Manager, Georgia Tech, Enterprise Innovation Institute
Mike Stonecipher is a Senior Project Manager for the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (, a unit of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. He provides services for strategic planning, leadership development, organizational alignment and leads the Ga MEP industry emphasis for automotive.
Prior to joining Georgia Tech, Mike served 15 years in the automotive industry with AlliedSignal and Honeywell International, where he held the position of Director of Operations for the North American Automotive Friction Materials Division. He also worked in the energy and sustainability industry and has served on the Board of Directors for Power Partners, Inc. (formerly a division of ABB). He has international experience leading product and process development, six sigma and lean implementation, factory start-ups, new product launches, and managing operations that serve a global OEM customer base. He was awarded AlliedSignal’s CEO Technology Achievement Award and received a joint patent for abrasive coating of friction materials. Mike holds a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering from Tennessee Technological University and an M.B.A. from Brenau University. He has completed Lean Enterprise training through the Lean Design Institute at UT Knoxville and Finance for Executives, Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
Mike and Therese have been married for 30 years and reside in Athens, Ga. He enjoys coaching baseball, mission trips, drag racing and serves as Board Chair for the Atlanta Society of Automotive Engineers.
Timothy Szymcek
Timothy SzymcekVice President, Global Product and Process Consulting, J.D. Power
Tim Szymcek
Tim Szymcek is Vice President of Global Product and Process Consulting, J.D. Power. Tim has 25 years of manufacturing experience, including 8 years as Manager of Supplier Quality Engineering, Manufacturing Quality Engineering, Preproduction Quality Engineering and Toyota Production Systems Training and Development at Toyota Motor Manufacturing. He also spent 5 Years as Production Leader Manufacturing Trim Assembly and Purchasing Engineering/Supplier Development at Mitsubishi/Chrysler Joint venture Diamond Star Motors, 8 years as Global Management Consulting focusing on Quality and Efficiency Improvement for clients such as: Daimler, Nissan, JCI, Volvo, Adidas, Cerberus, and 3 years as Head of Global Lean and Advanced Manufacturing – New Balance.
Rick Walker
Rick WalkerPresident, GAMA
Rick started his career with Ford Motor Company as an engineer, was an Executive Vice President with a major Tier 1 automotive supplier for 14 years, and is now President and CEO of GAMA, the Georgia Automotive Manufacturers Association.

Rick is also currently a Partner at Clements Bernard Walker PLLC – a law firm specializing in Intellectual Property (patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and related matters), Trade Association, and Business Law. He is a Registered Patent Attorney. He specializes in various technologies including automotive, medical devices, industrial products, and computer systems, as well as in trade associations, and other related areas.

He is the author of numerous published articles on innovation, quality and profitability. In addition:
• He was named one of the “Latest Generation of Atlanta CEOs and Power Brokers”, Atlanta Journal Constitution;
• He was named an NACD (National Association of Corporate Directors) Governance Fellow, the highest level of credentialing for corporate directors and corporate governance professionals;
• He is AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell legal directory (highest ranking), and has been rated as one of Georgia’s top lawyers for several years in various publications; and
• He received the International Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF).

He holds both undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees from the University of Detroit, a law degree from the University of Detroit, and completed The Executive Program at the University of Michigan, School of Business Administration.

John Waraniak
John WaraniakVice President, Vehicle Technology, SEMA
John Waraniak has been in the aerospace, automotive, racing and performance industries for over 25 years with rich systems engineering experience, innovative technology insights and frontline lessons for competing and winning in today’s Automotive 4.0 transformation.
John has been Vice President of Vehicle Technology at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) since May 2006. In this role, he helps leading automotive and performance aftermarket companies integrate their products with the latest advanced vehicle technologies and capitalize on new business and product development opportunities. He is an acknowledged leader and advocate for automaker-aftermarket-technology innovation and collaboration for advancing safety performance, connected, assisted and automated driving, new mobility solutions and systems engineering management.
John is currently a director of the Carroll A. Campbell Jr., Graduate Engineering Center Industrial Advisory Board at Clemson University, as well as an advisor and mentor at Techstars Mobility in Detroit and a founding member of the SAE Connect2Car Executive Committee. He has held executive management positions with global and entrepreneurial companies, including TATA Motors, Johnson Controls, General Motors, Hughes Aircraft, Northrop and No Fear.
Waraniak earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan. He has a master’s degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in engineering management from West Coast University. He also graduated from the California Institute of Technology’s Executive Engineering Management Program. Born and raised in the Motor City of Detroit, Michigan, Waraniak is an avid auto industry, action sports and motocross enthusiast. He lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan with his wife Terri and has two sons, Scott and Jeff.
Tim Yerdon
Tim YerdonPresident, Plymouth Technology Advisors, LLC
Tim is an established innovation executive leveraging nearly 25 years of experience in
engineering, marketing and communication. He is currently the President at Plymouth Technology Advisors, a consulting and advisory firm that provides strategic guidance to vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, and technology companies in the rapidly evolving space of connected, electrified and autonomous vehicles.

Currently he is working with Ford Motor Company, and Team Edison, which is
focused on a new portfolio of electrified and connected vehicles. Previously, Tim served as the Chief Marketing Executive at Visteon Corporation, a $3.2B global technology leader in vehicle cockpit electronics and connected car solutions. He led all aspects of marketing and communications and was a key member of the c-suite leadership team. Before joining the executive team, Tim spent a year as the Vice President – Connected Car, Design & Marketing and earlier in his career spent 13 years in a variety of functions at Visteon from advanced electronics to manufacturing and racing. Tim started his career in engineering and electronics with Ford Motor Company.

He also serves as the chairman for the Society of Automotive Engineers
(SAE™) Connect-2-Car group along with being on the Industry Advisory Board for the
University of Michigan-Dearborn. He has also held other board positions with the
Consumer Technology Associations (CTA™), producers of CES.

Tim has a master’s degree in manufacturing systems from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology from Penn State University.