Robert Willig Announced CEO of SME

Robert Willig
Robert Willig // Photo courtesy of SME

Robert “Bob” Willig has been named executive director and CEO of Southfield’s SME, a professional association committed to advancing manufacturing and developing a skilled workforce.

Willig has more than 30 years of experience in the manufacturing industry, has held multiple leadership positions for global divisions within major manufacturing companies, most recently at Stoneridge Inc. There, he was the president of the control devices division. Prior to Stoneridge, Willig served as president and CEO of Plasan Carbon Composites, and before that he was president for GKN Driveline, an automotive industry supplier focused on drive system technologies.

Earlier in his career, Willig was president of both power transmission and powertrain at The Gates Corp., and he has also served on various boards including Plasan’s board of directors, GKN’s chief executive council, and Gates Corp. Asia’s board of directors.

Willig has experience in leading teams across multiple cultures, languages, locations, and disciplines.

“Bob’s extensive experience and insights into the manufacturing industry make him an ideal leader for SME during this time of disruptive change in manufacturing,” says Susan Smyth, 2020 president of SME. “Bob’s ability to focus on long-term strategy even during a challenging economy, his track record of business development success, and his values-based leadership will help SME pursue its mission of advancing manufacturing while building a culture for continued success.”

Willig succeeds Sandra Bouckley, 2017 SME president, who was appointed SME’s executive director and CEO in July 2018. Bouckley will remain with SME as a leadership transition consultant through March 31.

“For nearly 90 years, SME has been a consistent resource for knowledge, connections, and supporting the next generation of manufacturing talent,” says Willig. “I’m looking forward to working to protect that legacy while charting a new course for this organization as our industry adapts to advanced technology and a post-COVID economy.”

Willig has a bachelor’s in mechanical systems design from Lawrence Technological University and a Master of Business Administration from Wayne State University. He will be based at SME’s headquarters in Southfield.

SME connects manufacturing professionals, academia, and communities, sharing knowledge and resources to build inspired, educated and prosperous manufacturers and enterprises. The organization is committed to promoting manufacturing technology, developing a skilled workforce, and attracting future generations to advance manufacturing.