Magna announced recently that its board of directors has appointed Seetarama (Swamy) Kotagiri as chief executive officer, effective Jan. 1, 2021. Don Walker, who served as CEO between 1994 and 2001, and since 2005, will retire at the end of 2020. In his 33-year career at Magna, Walker served in various leadership roles including vice president product development and engineering, chief operating officer and president, in addition to chief executive officer of former Magna “spinco,” Intier Automotive Inc. between 2001 and 2005.
“Given Swamy’s role in aligning the company’s strategy with the megatrends impacting new mobility and the ‘car of the future,’ he is the right leader to take Magna forward,” said William Young, chairman of Magna’s board of directors. “Swamy has a strong command of the business, sound judgment, and is a strategic thinker who can drive disciplined execution. I’ve been impressed by Swamy’s ability to inspire people to think innovatively and deliver their best work to benefit Magna’s customers. Swamy also has an innate leadership quality of being able to take complex problems and break them down so that people can understand and solve them.
“I would also like to commend Don for his success and thank him for his dedicated service,” Young added. “Under his strong leadership, Magna has grown to be the third-largest global automotive supplier, one of Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies, and a perennial winner of customer, industry and technology awards.”
“Leading Magna and working with all our great employees has been a tremendous honor and I am extremely proud of everything we have accomplished together,” stated Walker. “In addition to Swamy’s strong technical and operational strengths, he has played an integral role in advancing the company’s position in the changing mobility landscape and encouraging a start-up mindset to solve problems with solutions from outside our industry. I am confident in Swamy’s future-focused approach and leadership to move Magna forward into the next decade and beyond.”
“Building on Magna’s industry leadership is very important to me. It starts with our people, who are among the most talented in the business. We will leverage the company’s decentralized, entrepreneurial culture, which empowers every member of the Magna family to act as an owner and think as if they were part of a start-up,” said Kotagiri. “With the next transformation in mobility upon us, Magna can build on its current position of strength, derived from leading capabilities across key areas of the vehicle, financial stability and strong leadership. The evolution of the mobility ecosystem presents a range of opportunities directly related to Magna’s strengths. I look forward to leading our team and working with all of our stakeholders as we seek to create sustainable value from those opportunities.”
Kotagiri has more than 25 years of automotive industry experience, 21 of which have been with Magna. In his previous role as Magna’s chief technology officer (CTO), the company further strengthened its culture of innovation by forming partnerships in areas including autonomy, electrification, electronics and connectivity. Kotagiri was responsible for managing the company’s innovation and new product strategy and development both at a corporate level and in conjunction with Magna’s product groups. While CTO, he also served in various leadership positions including president of Magna Electronics, Magna Powertrain and the company’s Power and Vision segment. Early in his Magna career, he also held various engineering and operating positions at Cosma International, a Magna operating unit. Kotagiri holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Oklahoma State University with a specialization in materials and structural engineering.