What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I always had an interest in practical subjects at school and knew I wanted to go into some form of engineering. When I was 16, I started as an apprentice electrical control specialist at Ford. One promotion happened after another, and 27 years later I was still working at Ford. I only left last year to join Jaguar Land Rover.
I'm very proud of my family. My wife is a great support and my two children are great kids, and both have real talent. Professionally, my greatest achievement is progressing from the ground level. I never dreamed that I could progress in this way and have the opportunities I've been given in the industry.
Biggest failure and what it taught you?
One thing I've learned is how critical timing is. The auto industry is very complex, and things will go wrong from time to time, but there are always things you can do to recover. The one thing you can't do is get time back. You can't allow dates to pass, or commitments not to be met on the day they should be, and think everything will be OK.
What is your current challenge at work?
I'm here to set up a new division/department at Jaguar Land Rover. We don't have engine manufacturing capability at the moment. The challenge includes creating the department and recruiting the best engineers in the industry. People with the right skills and behaviors are scarce. Another challenge is establishing a manufacturing strategy and footprint that can operate globally and respond to JLR's growth ambitions and deal with the localization requirements of many of the new markets in a way that retains the highest levels of investment efficiency and cost per unit of capacity.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
The thing that really surprises me is that most of the industry still tries to predict the future very accurately and put plans in place to match it exactly. The only thing we really know is that our predictions for the future will be wrong. The industry is so complex that it's impossible to predict it. I try to develop plans that are versatile and flexible to allow for the inevitable change.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I was fortunate to receive this when I was very young, and it relates to personal development: If there's a particular job you'd like to do, just tell the people who can make it happen. People can't guess what you would like to do. Following that advice has resulted in my being able to do some great jobs on a number of occasions.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Be prepared for some tough times during your career. This is a really tough, challenging industry. There will be periods where everything seems great and you make progress, but also periods where everything seems to be working against you. But you can travel the world, help foster growth and development, and be involved in creating jobs, which is a very rewarding thing.
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
Apart from celebrate? I would spend some time looking at what "great" looks like, and would work together with my team to build a vision for a common goal and a common set of values. If people are working together, some really spectacular results can be achieved.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I certainly love what I'm doing at the moment, and I've never really thought very much about my next job until I've achieved everything I can in my current role. But at the end of my working life, I would like to be able to give something back to the industry. My father worked in the automotive industry from the day I was born, and the industry has kind of put a meal on my table every day of my life. I'd like to have a role that could really attract people to the industry and help them get started.
What do you do to relax?
I play football and a bit of golf, and I enjoy spending time out in the country with my family, walking our springer spaniel. The different environment helps me to relax and gather my thoughts.
A 1971 Triumph Spitfire in British racing green. It was a two-seater sports convertible, really great fun to drive, but not the most reliable. I spent many weekends working on it to get it in running order for the next week. I think modern cars have lost a little bit of the excitement that was once in them.
Range Rover Sport.
July 2012-present: Head of global powertrain manufacturing engineering, powertrain operations, manufacturing engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, Whitley, England
2009-2012: Production engineering manager, powertrain operations, manufacturing engineering, Ford of Europe, Dunton, England
2004-2009: New programs manager, diesel engines, powertrain operations, manufacturing engineering, Ford of Europe, Dunton
2003-2004: Production engineering site leader, powertrain operations, manufacturing engineering, Ford of Europe, Dagenham, England
2001-2002: UK project manager, diversified consumer services, customer service division, Ford of Europe, Warley, England
1998-2001: Principal engineer, final assembly, manufacturing engineering, Jaguar, Whitley, England
1996-1998: Supervisor, facilities engineering, vehicle operations manufacturing engineering, Ford of Europe, Aveley, England
1994-1996: Senior engineer, electrical engineering, vehicle operations manufacturing, Ford of Europe, Aveley
1989-1994: Various positions, Dagenham Engine Plant, Ford of Britain, Dagenham, England
1985-1989: Electrical apprentice, Technical Training Centre & Dagenham Engine Plant, Ford of Britain, Dagenham