What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
Being born in Luton, England, I could see the Vauxhall plant from my window as a kid. A number of family members worked for the company, so I joined Vauxhall from school, starting in manufacturing as part of the final assembly team working on models such as the Frontera SUV.
It was balancing my full-time job at the Vauxhall plant with going to university on a sponsorship from General Motors. I would attend classes and study during the day and work a night shift. It was a tough three years, but I gained a great foundation from having a strong practical and academic understanding of the industry. If you are focused and dedicated then anything is possible.
Biggest failure and what it taught you?
After I finished my degree, I moved to forklift maker Boss as financial controller at its UK plant in Leighton Buzzard. It was a volatile time and despite doing everything possible we could not make the business profitable so the plant had to close. Although I was very sad, this taught me you can't fight change. You have to embrace change and shape your business around it.
What is your current challenge at work?
The main challenge is remaining cost effective during the company's biggest ever product offensive, which is taking place at a time when there are strong economic headwinds from the European market.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
It is the optimism, passion and innovation of this industry. Despite the tough times in Europe, we are still bringing forward great products.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
At start of my career I was told 'You can achieve anything if you are focused and prepared to work hard every day to achieve your objectives.'
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
It is not important where you start from it is where you finish.
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
A CEO needs to understand the company culture and make sure the company remains true to its core values. Real change doesn't happen in a day.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
In the short term, my current job will definitely keep me very busy. Beyond a career in automotive, I would like to work with young entrepreneurs to help them start their own businesses.
What do you do to relax?
By nature, I am restless so I like to do practical things. For example, during my vacation last summer I build an extension on my house.
It was a bright orange 1977 Austin Mini that I rebuilt from a shell with my father.
A white all-wheel-drive Opel Antara 2.2-liter diesel.
Jan. 2013-present: Finance director sales, marketing & aftersales, Opel/Vauxhall, Ruesselsheim
2010-2012: Owner, Windrush Asset Management, London
2004-2010: Co-chief financial officer; Mitsubishi Europe, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2001-2004: General manager controlling; Mitsubishi Europe, Amsterdam
1995-2001: Financial controller, Boss Manufacturing (forklifts), Leighton Buzzard, England
1991-1995: Production operative, General Motors Manufacturing, Luton, England