On the Rise: Justin Che
Principal Scientist | Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. | Age: 34
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in the tire industry was working in the global raw materials development and approvals team at Goodyear. I was able to work directly with numerous raw material suppliers to develop next generation raw materials to be used for new compound developments and meet new tire performance objectives.
What attracted you to the industry?
A tire is a very complex object that contains over a dozen components, and within each component contains approximately another dozen raw materials. All these raw materials need to work well together to deliver excellent tire performance but also maintain the tire integrity, especially with the countless cycles of dynamic stress that a tire endures. As a scientist, there is a lot of exciting science to understand how each of these raw materials interact with each other in order to develop the next breakthrough technology.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been difficulties in the supply of raw materials. The biggest challenge is to be able to develop technical alternatives for all raw materials in order to continue delivery of Goodyear products.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
Philippe Schmit, chief engineer of global raw materials and reinforcements, who has mentored me on the technical importance of fillers and its correlation to tire compounding and performance.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
My biggest accomplishment is to be able to become lead chair of the fillers technical council and drive the fillers technical strategy for Goodyear.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your work day?
I have a doctorate in chemistry and I’ve been with Goodyear for five years. I am currently a principal scientist in the global raw materials development and approvals team. Our team facilitates the technical approval of all new sources and new materials. I work closely with our raw material suppliers to develop the next generation raw materials to be incorporated into compounds to improve tire performance. I specifically manage the non-black filler category of raw materials, which includes the silica, silane coupling agents, miscellaneous fillers, etc. I am also the lead chair of the fillers technical council driving the fillers technical strategy for Goodyear. On an average work day, the day is usually spent with a combination of the following: external meetings with existing/potentially new suppliers on active development projects; internal cross-functional meetings on technical and commercial strategies for fillers; provide cross-functional support on existing or new materials to other teams including compound technology, procurement, plant/quality, labs, and global stewardship. And most importantly, dedicating focus time for technical development and lab evaluations of new materials.
What’s one thing you wish someone would have told you before you took your current job?
In my current job, there are a lot of projects and responsibilities. I wish someone would have taught me earlier about Stephen Covey’s Four Quadrants for time management and organizing my priorities of what’s important, not important, urgent, and not urgent.
Tell us about your family.
I am married to my smart and beautiful wife, Rose Chau. She has been a NICU nurse for almost 10 years. I want to commend her for her bravery, passion and dedication as a NICU nurse as she worked during the COVID-19 pandemic. My wife also just gave birth recently to our first child, a baby boy named Tyler Che, on Aug. 28th!
What did you learn about yourself in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve learned that taking care of your health and safety should be a top priority. I’ve seen close friends and family lose someone special because of compromised health. I learned to take better care of myself by eating healthier, sleeping more, exercising, and drinking plenty of fluids. I need to stay healthy in order to take care of everyone and everything in life!
Name a talent you wish you had.
I wish I could cook well! My wife and I are big foodies. We love to travel and eating different ethnic cuisines.
How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?
Everyone can have a bad or stressful day, whether it is personal or work related. Everyone is very busy with lots to do, and recovery is key to keep your gears moving without getting burned out. For me, recovery from a bad or stressful day will usually include going out to a restaurant to have a nice dinner with my family and friends, followed by watching a movie at home with a glass of whiskey!
What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner.
What’s your favorite, can’t-miss podcast?
I am a big sports fanatic! My favorite sport is football, and during the NFL season, I can’t miss the weekly fantasy football podcasts!
If you won an Olympic gold medal, how would you have earned it? (You can make up a sport.)
I was born and raised in New York City. Everyone knows the best pizza out there is from NYC! If there is a competition (based on) with how many consecutive days you can eat a slice of NYC pizza, I would be pretty close to the gold medal!
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
The current biggest issue now in the tire industry is related to the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been difficulties in the supply of raw materials. The biggest challenge is to be able to develop technical alternatives for all raw materials in order to continue delivery of high quality tire products to our customers.
What advice would you give to tire dealers who are desperate to find good employees?
There is a lot of excellent talent on the market. Be sure to find the best candidate that fits your open positions, which includes their background, experience, career aspiration, etc. It needs to be a good match between the employer and employee in order to keep them around!
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
I would like to expand my role to lead the strategy for technology developments for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.