Biography

Charlie Baker has over 25 years of Lean Product Development experience, including 15 years at Honda in both North America and Japan. Charlie was the Large Project Leader (equivalent to a Toyota Chief Engineer) for the ’96 Acura CL, the ’01 Acura MDX (winner of every major award in the auto industry), the ’03 Honda Pilot and the ’03 Honda Accord. Developing the Accord required several years at Honda R&D in Japan leading a Japanese team. He also held a number of management positions at Honda including Vice President at Honda R&D Americas, where he oversaw development of the Acura TL, the Honda Ridgeline, the Honda Element and other models.

Charlie is versed in all aspects of Lean Product Development from prospecting new market opportunities, product innovation, program management of complex projects, launch, quality improvement efforts, and cost containment / reduction.

After Honda, Charlie joined Johnson Controls as Group Vice President for Engineering in the automotive group, where he was charged with radical improvement of engineering execution, cost, quality and innovation. Over a 4-year period with the JCI team Charlie created and executed a strategy to convert JCI engineering and program management to Lean Product Development. Results were dramatic – roughly a 50% improvement in engineering cost, dramatic reduction in waste as measured by tooling changes, significant product cost reduction, significant quality improvement and creation of world-class innovation. Dr. Liker assessed this improvement in 2009 as the most significant transformation of an organization to Lean Product Development that he had seen, and subsequently collaborated with Charlie to tell the story of this transformation in the book “The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement.”

After JCI Charlie joined Harley-Davidson as VP for Engineering. Accomplishments there included framing “Project Rushmore” – a total redesign of Harley’s iconic FL touring series of motorcycles. Using Lean PD principals, especially a focus on unmet customer needs, Charlie was able to help create an innovative breakthrough for this classic American brand.

Charlie joined General Motors in 2011 as Executive Director for Interior Engineering. Applying Lean Product Development principals Charlie was able to reduce quality issues by 50%, achieve over $1.0B product cost reduction annually, significantly improve execution / launch and introduce world-class innovation like the Chevrolet Bolt seat (perhaps the thinnest automotive seat in the world). In 2015 Charlie was named as GM’s first Executive Director for Product Marketing for the Gem program, a line of vehicles created to satisfy over 20 global markets, with the challenge of creating a product that delights customers in these markets while meeting severe cost and investment targets.

Charlie has a BSME from General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan.

Charlie Baker is a Lean Management leader at The Leadership Network, a leadership and management training provider.

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