The Ronald and Valerie Sugar Distinguished Speaker Series

Freeman Shen, founder, Chairman and CEO of WM Motor

The Ronald and Valerie Sugar Distinguished Speaker Series brings national and international leaders in engineering and related fields to campus. The program is primarily geared toward UCLA Engineering students, giving them an opportunity to hear first-hand from technology leaders and innovators on what it took to get where they are, and the critical issues facing society that engineers must address.

The series was made possible by a major gift to UCLA Engineering from the Sugars, both alumni of UCLA. Each program, by invitation only, is for UCLA Engineering students, as well as faculty, staff and select alumni.

Freeman Shen, founder, Chairman and CEO of WM Motor

Mr. Freeman H. Shen is the founder, Chairman and CEO of WM Motor. WM Motor is an emerging EV products and mobility solution provider in China. He was the Group Co-founder and CEO of Pateo Group, a leading vehicle connectivity, telematics and smart car technology company. Before that, he was the Board Member and Group Vice President of Geely Holding Group. Geely Holding Group is the parent company of Volvo Car Group based in Sweden, and Geely Auto listed in Hong Kong Stock Exchange. He also held the positions of Chairman & CEO, Shanghai Geely Zhaoyuan International (a US20 billion-annual-revenue company). Geely Zhaoyuan is the global holding company of Volvo Car Group. He was also the Chairman of Volvo Car Group China. During his tenure with Geely, he was in charge of the acquisition of Volvo Car Group, which is the largest and most successful cross-border M&A case in the Chinese history. After the acquisition, Mr. Shen led the team to establish the global governance structure for Volvo Car Group and successfully made Volvo Car Group as an independent company. Meanwhile he was the Senior Vice President of Volvo Car Group and led the team to build the operations of Volvo Car in China after the acquisition, including the R&D center, car plants, powertrain plant, supplier base and sales and service network. This operation became the largest and most profitable business for Volvo Car Group around the world and contributed over 70% profits for Volvo Car Group.

Before working with Geely Group, Mr. Shen was the Vice President of Fiat Group China, CEO of Fiat Powertrain Technologies China, and the member of Steering Committee of Fiat Group. Mr. Shen was the Chairman or board member for Fiat Group’s JV or wholly owned companies in Chongqing, Hangzhou and Shanghai. He was the key member of the team to revitalize Fiat Group China.

Before joining Fiat Group, Mr. Shen worked for a few Global 500 Companies based in North America and Europe, including TXU Group, Eaton Corporation and BorgWarner Inc. He held a few executive positions include project manager in US headquarters, deputy plant manager in US manufacturing plant, managing directors of JV companies and wholly-owned companies in China, managing director of Asia for a business unit, corporate president for China, and board members for several JV and wholly-owned companies etc. He was also the founder and the first President of BorgWarner China.

Mr. Shen holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering from South China University of Technology, Master of Science Degree in Engineering from University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and a Master Degree in Business Administration from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, USA. He is also a graduate from Advanced Management Program (AMP) in Harvard Business School.

His past and current board assignments include Volvo Car Group in Sweden, Geely Holding Group in China, DSI International in Australia, Hilite International in German, GIF/ATESTEO in Germany, and the Chinese subsidiaries of BorgWarner, Fiat Group, etc.

Mr. Shen is one of the most successful Chinese returnees from overseas to China. He was selected to become the 2008 Beijing Olympic Torch Relay Runner. He is a frequent speaker in many economics and industry forums in China, India, Europe and in the USA. He was featured by CCTV, Xinhua News Agency, CNN, CNBC, WSJ and Reuters. Because of his contributions to local economics and communities, he was awarded the Camellia Award from Zhejiang Provincial Government in 2003, and Magnolia Award from Shanghai Municipal Government in 2013 etc. He is the member of Board of Overseers, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, and a fellow with Aspen Institute and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

Past Speakers (2016 – 2017)

About The Ron And Valerie Distinguished Speaker Series

“I met Ron and Valerie during my first few weeks here, and Ron emphasized that a school-wide distinguished speaker series could really benefit our students,” says Jayathi Murthy, the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean of UCLA Engineering. “They will get a first-person connection with someone leading the technology landscape and hear what’s on the horizon. And, most of our speakers are alumni of the school. So in addition to hearing their insights, I hope our students also see that they too can reach the top in their chosen field.”

“As UCLA students, Valerie and I both received an invaluable educational experience that was more than our classes,” says Ron Sugar, who earned three degrees from UCLA Engineering. “Through this new distinguished speaker series, which we’re both very proud and honored to support, we hope current and future students will get a good window into what lies ahead and get an idea on how they can shape their own careers following graduation.”

Ronald and Valerie Sugar are long-time supporters of UCLA Engineering. In October 2016, the couple gave a $5 million gift to the school creating an endowment that will support the dean’s top priorities. The school’s deanship was renamed in recognition of the gift. In 2011, the Sugars gave $1 million to create an endowed faculty chair in engineering.

Ronald Sugar graduated summa cum laude in engineering in 1968 from UCLA. He received his master’s degree in 1969 and his Ph.D. in 1971 in the same field. He was an executive in the aerospace, defense and automotive industries. Most prominently, he served as the chairman of the board and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corporation from 2003 until his retirement in 2010. He is currently a director of Apple, Chevron Corporation and Amgen, and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Valerie Sugar graduated magna cum laude in history in 1971 from UCLA and earned a master’s degree in library science from USC in 1972. She held professional positions in library science and computer science at the RAND Corp. and The Aerospace Corporation. Subsequently, she has focused on family, artistic and philanthropic endeavors.


The Ronald and Valerie Sugar Distinguished Speaker Series invites international engineering and technology leaders to share their experiences with UCLA Engineering students, faculty and staff. These events – held exclusively for the UCLA Engineering community – include a moderated discussion with the guest, audience Q&A and a post-event reception for further idea sharing and networking.

Questions? Please contact:

Sarah Low
(310) 825-1628

UCLA Engineering

×