Q&A: Brunswick’s new CTO, Alexandra Cattelan

By Jamie Stafford

Alexandra “Alex” Cattelan is Brunswick’s newest chief technology officer (CTO). She comes to the company with a wealth of experience in the automotive and powersports industry, most recently working for Polaris as the vice president of Engineering, Connected, Controls, Electrification and Autonomous Systems. Prior to Polaris, she worked for Stellantis, Johnson Controls, AVL North America, and General Motors.

Cattelan expressed anticipation for the future in the press release detailing her appointment, saying, “I am thrilled to join Brunswick at such an exciting time in the company’s history. Brunswick has made incredible strides not just in advancing technology but in transforming itself and advancing its capabilities to deliver exceptional boating experiences to existing and new boaters. I look forward to partnering with the talented Brunswick leadership team to build on this momentum.”

Recently, Boating Industry got to ask the new CTO some questions about her position.

Boating Industry (BI): Where did your career in the marine industry begin?

Alexandra Cattelan (AC): My work in the marine industry is truly very recent, starting with my role at Brunswick. I have been exposed to the industry in other organizations I have worked in, but Brunswick is my first opportunity to take my experience from the automotive and powersports industries and adapt it to innovations in the marine industry. I love exploring the role that technology takes to enhance the customer experience in exciting, groundbreaking products. This industry provides boundless opportunity for that exploration.

BI: What drew you to Brunswick and the position of CTO?

AC: First and foremost, the team. We have a fantastically skilled and capable team, starting with our CEO Dave Foulkes and extending to the entire organization, including the Board of Directors.  The team is progressive, diverse, passionate and focused. From the first conversation I had with Brunswick leadership and board members, I could feel that there was incredible energy in the organization.

Brunswick is well positioned as the marine industry leader and is committed to innovation, particularly with our ACES (Autonomy, Connected, Electrification and Shared Usage) strategy. What better CTO role could there be than with an organization that is inspired by innovation and committed to its evolution? I am already amazed by the results this team has created and I am honored that I will play a role in progressing those results even further.

BI: So, what will you be responsible for in your new role?

AC: A large part of my role will be focused on working with our incredible teams to integrate our existing and new technologies across Brunswick. I will be focused on our ACES strategy, but also on the technologies we develop that extend far beyond ACES as well. 

Brunswick has brought to market and continues to develop some of the most complex propulsion, controls and communication systems in the industry. Commercializing these systems requires evolution of skills, tools and methods and part of my role is to ensure we forge that path ahead and continue to be the leader of innovation and technology introduction to the marine market.

BI: Speaking of innovation, what new perspectives and innovations are you planning on bringing to Brunswick?

AC: I have been very fortunate in my career and been given a diverse set of opportunities with a diverse set of companies from startups to large corporations. This includes working for OEMs, suppliers and consultants on engineering, manufacturing, and business solutions. My primary focus has been implementation of innovative technologies in propulsion systems (including electrification), infotainment systems, autonomous and other controls systems and communication systems. 

My experience overlaps very well with Brunswick’s innovation focus and my diverse roles will allow me to bring unique perspective to the team. I am a very curious individual who enjoys the challenge of building technology strategies and deploying product innovation. I look forward to learning about and exploring the unique opportunities in Marine and I think my fresh perspective, coupled with the broad team, will naturally help identify new ideas and innovation opportunities.

BI: Did you ever envision yourself in this position?

AC: I would say I envisioned myself as a CTO for a progressive, dynamic, and growing company. I was not actively looking when this role came up, but I already knew about Brunswick’s extremely good reputation and was very intrigued. After discussions with the team and further investigation, I knew this was the CTO role I wanted. I feel very fortunate that the Brunswick team saw me as a fit in the organization. 

BI: The boating industry is a traditionally male-dominated field. Does this affect how you approach your role as chief technology officer?

AC: Working in engineering in automotive and power sports product industries previous to Brunswick, I am used to working with teams that have higher percentages of men, especially in leadership positions. Things are changing, and I am happy to say that through many years of work, those industries are seeing the positive results of growing and building diverse teams. 

Brunswick is a leader among them with almost half of the C-suite and board positions filled by women, which was another part of the attraction of working at Brunswick for me. I don’t think my approach has changed much over the many years though. I have been myself, trusted my instinct and approach and steadfastly progressed product and teams towards a goal, adjusting when I made mistakes.

I think the only difference I take when I am in a gender minority environment is to understand that my communication language and style will sometimes be very different, and I adjust to ensure I listen intently and equally find a way to be heard. 

BI: What does being a leader mean to you, personally?

AC: To me, being a leader is about working collaboratively to define a set of goals and outcomes that will exceed our customers’expectations and then inspiring and empowering a team to react to those goals and outcomes. With such a talented team at Brunswick, I know we will be able to set the bar high and continually evolve and learn as we achieve it.

BI: What are you most eager to begin working on in the future?

AC: The work we are doing today to evolve our strategy for ACES and other technologies is extremely exciting. As we roadmap the evolution of this technology, I look forward to further delighting our current customers and attracting new ones. I am also very excited about growing the skills of the existing teams and developing
a pipeline of new talent for generations to come, for example, through continued university partnerships like the one we have with University of Illinois. There has never been a more exciting time to be working in marine product development, and Brunswick’s position in the marine industry makes the adventure rich in opportunity

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