Infiniti Europe's boss loves a good wine

James Wright, vice president, Infiniti Europe

James Wright
Scotsman James Wright is one of the most watched car guys in Europe right now.

That is because he is facing what he calls one of the toughest challenges in his 18-year career: the European launch of Infiniti. The Nissan luxury brand will begin European sales in October with a three-model lineup.

Infiniti debuted in the US two decades ago and in Russia last year. Europe is the latest part of the automaker's global expansion.

Nearly two years ago, Wright accepted the challenge of launching Infiniti. He has been negotiating partnerships with some of Europe's top dealership groups, such as Spain's Berge Automocion and Holland's AutoBinck Holding.

The aim is to have 78 Infiniti centers across Europe by the end of 2010.

Agreements for up to 90 percent of those are already in place, he said.

Wright started his career with Ford Motor in 1990. Three years later, he joined Nissan in the UK.Name: James Wright.

Title: Vice president, Infiniti Europe.

Age: 47.

Language: English.

Nationality: British.

Family: Wife, Catherine.

Countries lived in: UK, Ireland, France, Switzerland.

Education: Bachelor's degree in economics and marketing from the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, Scotland.

What is in your garage?

An Infiniti FX45 (Russian specification) and a Nissan Murano.

If you could work in another industry, what would it be?

The airline or aircraft industry, or perhaps the boat business.

What do you do to relax?

I'm not good at relaxing I get bored very easily.

What is the first thing you do when you arrive home from work?

Start on the things-to-do list prepared by my wife.

What kinds of books do you read?

Biographies and other non-fiction.

What book are you reading now?

Alan Greenspan's biography, The Age of Turbulence.

If you could meet any figure from history, who would it be?

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She changed a country through the force of her personality.

What do you do on planes?

Read and catch up with BBC Radio downloaded to my iPod.

When are you not at your best?

Late in the day, when I get tired and perhaps a little short-tempered.

What was the most fun you had last year?

I recently had the chance to visit behind the scenes at the Premier League's Liverpool soccer club. I am not a soccer fan, but I was quite starstruck.

What are your most treasured possessions?

My wine cellar. It represents many memories of where I have been.

What CDs are in your car right now?

None. I like to use the time spent in the car for thinking.

Where would you really like to live?

California, because of its combination of climate and metropolitan lifestyle, with spectacular beaches and countryside -- plus great food.

What are your strongest attributes as a team leader?

I delegate and give responsibility. This motivates good people.

If you could change anything in your life, what would it be?

Nothing. We are who we are because of where we have been.

What is your greatest regret?

My thoughts are on the future rather than the past.

What is your current state of mind?

Focused on making the right decisions for the long-term success of Infiniti in Europe.

Which words or phrases do you overuse?

"How much?"

What is your greatest fear?

As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Being too quick to judge.

What is the trait you most dislike in others?

Being too quick to judge.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Good wine.

What is your favorite restaurant?

Bibendum in London.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Linguistics, especially now that I'm living in Switzerland and working in an office with 15 different nationalities.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

The ability to switch off more.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Life is about the future, so I believe the best is still to come.

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