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Jay Ward

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Name: Jay Ward
Title: Director, product communications
Company: Ford of Europe
Location: Cologne, Germany & Dunton, England
Age: 41
Family: Wife, Claire; daughter, Jessica 8; son, Jamie 6
Born: Milan, Italy
Nationality: British
Languages: English, Italian, French, basic German
Education: Post-graduate certificate in marketing, Carshalton College, Surrey, England; degree in drama and Italian, University of Hull, England

 

What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?

My first automotive job was with Ford of Britain as an account manager in rental operations. I was primarily responsible for sales of light commercial vehicles to daily rental companies. It was a great way to start in the industry because I had to learn the product fast. I was interested in the industry because a number of my family members worked in the industry in the Midlands.

Greatest achievement?

I had the lead on the North American launch of the new Ford Explorer in 2010. We decided to do something completely different, which was to unveil the car on Facebook and follow that with reveals in nine different places in North America. Overall, we developed more coverage than we would have done if had we debuted the car with an ad around during the Super Bowl.

Biggest failure and what it taught you?

When working at Jaguar I invested a lot of time in furthering my career. This was to the detriment of my family. My wife helped me realize that I was missing out on seeing my children grow up. Today I am very protective of my time with my family. If I have to get to work at 5 a.m. to make sure I am home in time for dinner with the kids, I am happy to do so.

What is your current challenge at work?

It is working globally across multiple cultures and multiple time zones. You have to understand the different mindsets of people. You also have to know when to talk and when to listen, especially on conference calls.

What about the auto industry surprises you?

When I started what surprised me most was the complexity of the industry. What surprises me now is the ability of the industry to continually overachieve when faced with massive challenges such as CO2 reduction or improving safety. Our ability as an industry to move forward and innovate is second to none.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

There was a time when I was too ambitious and always doing things with an eye toward the future. A person told me to focus on doing the best I could today and if you did that, the rewards will follow.

What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?

First you need to love cars. If you don't, it will be difficult. Also, read and learn as much as you can about the industry's past because this is crucial to understanding what's happening today. And finally, you should really enjoy the job you do.

If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?

Relocate the business to Tuscany. But seriously, what I have learned from working with Ford CEO Alan Mulally is the real power of communications. A company has to be able to tell its story. That is crucial.

What job do you really want to have in the future?

I would like to do this job - at higher salary!

What do you do to relax?

I golf, play and coach cricket and spend time with my family and our 2-year-old golden retriever, Bonnie.

First car?

A 1978 Ford Escort 1.3 that I named Bianca (it was white)

Current car?

A bright yellow Ford Focus ST wagon for me and a Ford S-Max for my wife.

Career highlights

October 2012-present: Director, product communications, Ford of Europe, Cologne, Germany & Dunton, England

2011-2012: Senior manager, product communications, Ford of Europe, Cologne, Germany

2008-2011: Communications manager, crossovers and SUVs, Ford North America, Dearborn, Michigan

2007-2008: Corporate communications manager, PAG Group, London, England

2004-2007: Global product communications and launch manager, Jaguar Cars, Gaydon, England

2003-2004: Global X-Type marketing communications manager, Jaguar Cars, Browns Lane, England

2001-2003: Retail advertising coordinator, Ford of Britain, Warley, England

1999-2001: Account manager, rental operations, Ford of Britain, Warley, England

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