If the person is looking to experience different places, interesting cultures and new ways of thinking, this is a great industry.
Q: What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
A: I started in 1998 in the purchasing department at Mannesman VDO, which was bought by Siemens and became Siemens VDO, which was bought by Continental. What fascinated me most about the automotive industry was the high level of innovation and short cycle times for the products despite the quality and cost demands.
Q: GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
A: It was the seamless merger of Continental's multimedia and connectivity advanced purchasing departments. We were able to successfully combine the two over a six-month period in 2009. By doing so we increased the performance of the department. Another big success came in 2003 when I spent a year successfully building up the purchasing department for Siemens VDO's plants in Melbourne and Adelaide, Australia. We set up a strong organizational structure and I found a great successor to take over for me when I left.
Q: BIGGEST FAILURE AND WHAT IT TAUGHT YOU?
A: Once I had an issue with a product launch for a strategic customer. I was responsible for the purchasing part of the project and the suppliers were late. I saw the indicators and mentioned them, but obviously I did not do this in the right way. What I learned was that you don't just hope that something will work itself out over time. You have to take action fast.
Q: WHAT ABOUT THE AUTO INDUSTRY SURPRISED YOU?
A: The speed of innovation never slows and neither does the demand to get products to market even quicker. I thought it was fast when I started in the industry in 1998. Now it's even faster.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT CHALLENGE AT WORK?
A: Continental is one of the world's largest suppliers of electronics. We have lots of subsuppliers in Japan, so we have been challenged by the natural disasters that hit the country. The problems are less severe now but remain a concern.
Q: WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
A: One piece of advice came from my wife, who said that I should always like the person I see when I look in the mirror, and I will as long as I believe in myself and hold true to my values. The other piece of advice came from my former boss in Australia, Bernd Hoenniger, who told me, 'Don't panic when life becomes difficult. Relax, take a deep breath and just fix the problem.'
Q: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A PERSON CONSIDERING A CAREER IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY?
A: If the person is looking to experience different places, interesting cultures and new ways of thinking, this is a great industry because it is global, diverse and dynamic.
Q: IF YOU WERE CEO OF A COMPANY WHAT WOULD YOU DO FIRST?
A: If the company I took over was not doing enough for the employees, I would start there. The people are the most important part of the company so the company must make sure that the employees know that they are trusted, respected and believed in.
Q: WHAT JOB DO YOU REALLY WANT TO HAVE IN THE FUTURE?
A: There is not one specific job that I am after, but if I could create a perfect position it would be one that offers a diverse working environment with the chance to interact with people, suppliers and customers of different cultures. The position also would allow me to make a significant contribution to the overall success of the company.
Q: WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?
A: I enjoy spending time with my family, reading books about history and jogging.
Q: FIRST CAR?
A: It was a dark green 1972 VW Beetle. I loved that car and would buy it again tomorrow.
Q: CURRENT CAR?
A: Ford Galaxy.