I'm pleasantly surprised and pleased to see the Asian and Indian auto industries begin to spread their wings in an era of affordability.
Q: What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
A: The first job that brought me to the auto industry was my stint with General Motors and its subsidiaries in the mid-1990s. Of course, I've always been in love with automobiles. The car is a wonderfully versatile symbol; for some it means speed and style, for others it is power and efficiency. It has been an excellent journey so far.
Q: GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
A: I've been fortunate to work globally with some of the best brands in the auto industry, so this is a hard question. My choice, however, would have to be the last three years I spent with PSA as the managing director of the India market. It was a very unique and rewarding experience because of the challenges I came across. I had to absorb and integrate the learning from the India scenario to our global model and ensure a seamless understanding of cross-cultural marketing and business practices. Implementing best practices in such a demanding atmosphere brought out the best in me and it was a very satisfying experience, overall.
Q: BIGGEST FAILURE AND WHAT IT TAUGHT YOU?
A: Thankfully, these have been far and few. When I look back, I think not innovating more in the face of opportunities presented to me early in my professional career would be it. The road to success is difficult and I've learned to channel my passion and creativity better over time. But recognizing the power of innovation has been a valuable asset to me in my professional and personal lives.
Q: WHAT ABOUT THE AUTO INDUSTRY SURPRISED YOU?
A: I was rather surprised by the U.S. auto industry's spectacular fall from grace. These were the brands that drove the world's dreams at one point and the turnaround was dramatic, to say the least. There is also the paradigm shift from the SUV/sedan philosophy to that of the family-oriented, hybrid car. At the same time, I'm pleasantly surprised and pleased to see the Asian and Indian auto industries begin to spread their wings in an era of affordability. The Tata Nano development under the aegis of an interesting financial scheme, the takeover of Jaguar Land Rover, and the rise of Hyundai. It bodes well for the future.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT CHALLENGE AT WORK?
A: Right now, I have to negotiate the increasing clamour for auto industry specialists. The industry as a whole is facing considerable pressure as regards innovation and sales, which looks like one of the major challenges. Simultaneously, we have to plan for the future, with the next-generation auto set to be both affordable and eco-friendly. Also, capturing the fast-growing Asian auto market is probably the final frontier right now.
Q: WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
A: The best advice doesn't always come early in one's career, but it sure helps if it does. My boss at one of my earliest jobs told me something I'll always remember. He said to trust in the abilities of your team, surround yourself with people with excellent skillsets and never ever lose the passion for the job.
Q: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A PERSON CONSIDERING A CAREER IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY?
A: I see the next generation as one that will be on the cutting edge of both technology and speed. So, my advice to them would be to channel creativity and passion into developing a car that is the best of both worlds –- thrills and performance. At the same time, they should look to bring optimum efficiency to the industry.
Q: IF YOU WERE CEO OF A COMPANY WHAT WOULD YOU DO FIRST?
A: Being in the auto industry, I'll answer from that perspective. The first thing on my to-do list would be to visit each of the company's dealerships and do my utmost to understand customer issues and pain points. We're talking about a consumer-driven industry, so every customer is king.
Q: WHAT JOB DO YOU REALLY WANT TO HAVE IN THE FUTURE?
A: I love my current job and I hope to continue developing successful new products.
Q: WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?
A: I like to play tennis and jog. In winter, I love to ski.
Q: FIRST CAR?
A: Austin Mini Minor MK3
Q: CURRENT CARS?
A: Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2.0 JTD 170hp diesel