What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I joined Ford as a student in the IT department working on the European purchasing system. It didn't really seem like an automotive job at first but gradually I learned more about the company and then moved into marketing and sales.
Professionally, it was bringing a number of separate teams (pricing, incentives, forward-model market equations) into one new department that handles all revenue management for Europe. From a personal standpoint, it was getting my golf handicap down to 4.5.
Biggest failure and what it taught you?
During my first year at university my grades were so bad that the principal told me they wanted to kick me out. At the end I finished with a 1st in mathematics and computing and I won the final year prize for practical work. I learned that you have to believe in yourself, even if nobody else does, and you can achieve anything if you try hard enough.
What is your current challenge at work?
The Ford product range is expanding like never before, particularly our commercial vehicle and SUV lineups. This is a massive challenge for my team as we have to reduce our operating cost every year even as the workload increases. We are finding all kinds of clever ways to do that by leveraging all our hubs (in the UK, Germany, Hungary and India) plus our digital tools. We have to simplify what we do but it is still really important to get the revenue equation right – a few dollars plus or minus multiplied by 1 million vehicles is a lot of money.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
I never imagined just how relentless the competition would be. The recession has forced everybody to fight even harder.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Choose carefully where you want to work and what you want to do but remain open to all opportunities. Also, don't be afraid to make your own opportunities.
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
It depends on the situation. One key is to get everyone to buy into a simple, clear vision of where you need to take the company. This is what Alan Mulally has done so successfully at Ford.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
Managing director in one of the key European markets.
What do you do to relax?
I play football and golf and I am a regular at the gym doing various types of fitness training including yoga and body combat. I also go salsa dancing every Tuesday.
2011-present: Director, revenue management, Europe, Cologne, Germany
2007-2011: Manager of sales group office, Cologne, Germany
2005-2007: Manager of production planning, Essex, England
2002-2005: Regional manager, Midlands region, Bristol, England
1999-2002: Manager of fleet marketing programs, Essex, England
1997-1999: Zone Manager, South Wales, Cardiff, England
1996-1997: Team leader, sales planning and analysis, Essex, England
1994-1996: Business analyst, vehicle planning and strategy, Essex, England
1993-1994: Team leader, worldwide integrated purchasing, Essex, England
1991-1993: Network planning analyst, Essex, England