Dr. Hossein Nivi is an accomplished executive, engineer, and academic with an expertise in leadership development, lean thinking, and applied systems thinking. As an executive, he has built one of the top leadership development systems in the world, transformed Ford’s plant training model, and co-established two globally competitive universities. As an engineer and academic, he has received two Henry Ford Technology Awards, received 3 patents, and published 30 papers on work that has contributed tens of millions of dollars to Ford’s bottom line.
Hossein founded Pendaran in 2006; this company has developed a holistic approach to business transformation. Dr. Nivi was also Dean, College of Business Administration at the University of Detroit Mercy from July 2006 to August 2008. Prior to this appointment he had been the Dean of Ford Design Institute (FDI). FDI is responsible for development and delivery of all technical education and training at Ford. He was also the Director of Global Product Development and Manufacturing Leadership Programs at Ford Motor Company. In 1996, he co-founded these systemic programs to develop a global community of lean thinking leaders at Ford. He felt that individual leaders could easily leave the company or be absorbed in the business’ predominant culture. Conversely, a critical mass of leaders with new values could change Ford’s culture from mass to lean. These immersive programs have 40 graduates who are exceptional transformational managers and 110 active members throughout Ford’s global product development and manufacturing operations. MIT researchers have concluded that these leadership programs, which are benchmarked by businesses such as Intel, GM, and Boeing, are among the top few in the country. As the Director of these programs, Hossein also served on the Industrial Advisory Boards of the MIT and Stanford business and engineering schools. In 2001, Hossein founded and built the Virtual Factory, Ford’s primary program to extend lean thinking to its plant employees.
The Virtual Factory is a systemic paradigm shift in pedagogy that focuses on learning, not teaching. Typical teaching techniques create disengaged students who are eager to escape an instructor reciting canned material. In the Virtual Factory, students learn by discovering the material through simulation and they develop the mental muscles needed to apply their discoveries. The Virtual Factory has been so effective that plant management, so far, has sent over 4000 of U.S. plant employees to the program without a corporate mandate. To date, Ford has invested over $10 million to propagate the program. From 1980 to 1995, Hossein served in engineering management, engineering, and research roles where he received two Henry Ford Technology Awards, received 3 patents, and published 30 papers. His work, which includes serving on the launch team of an $800 million engine plant, has contributed tens of millions of dollars to Ford’s bottom line.
From 1966 to 1978, Hossein helped build two globally competitive universities in Iran. He was a member of the founding team that designed and built Sharif University of Technology, now recognized as the top technical university in the Middle East. He also served as a Professor of several courses such as Kinematics, Dynamics of Machinery, and Dynamic Systems which he taught from a text he co-authored. In 1976, the President of Sharif University asked Hossein to take full responsibility for building a second university called Esfahan University of Technology. Hossein reported directly to the President in this role to build the school. Today, Esfahan educates 10,000 students and thrives as a leader in science and engineering.
Hossein received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 1975 from the University of London in England where he pioneered the field of computerized automotive diagnostics. The results of his research have been adopted by all auto manufacturers and can be seen in the computerized diagnostic systems found in every car dealership in the world. He has also received his M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tehran Polytechnique (Amir Kabir University and an M.S. degree in Electronics and Computer Control Systems from Wayne State University).