What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first job in the industry was as a marketing analyst in the customer service planning department. I was interested in Toyota because I studied the company in detail while I was a trainee working in the IT industry. Once at Toyota, I was able to discover the true attractiveness of the industry for myself.
Personally, it is the great family I have built together with my wife. Professionally, it is initiating the business transformation required for Toyota to succeed in Europe (and now in Spain).
Biggest failure and what it taught you?
It was crashing a car in my first test-drive assessment. I was obviously too confident, and that led to reckless behavior. The reaction from my top management was outstanding: I got asked about my physical status and to write down the cause of the crash and what I would do to ensure that it would never happen again. I must say, so far it hasn’t happened again (18 years later).
What is your current challenge at work?
Adjusting to the new consumer reality: digital transformation. Look at companies such as Google. These guys are hungry, they know no limits and they know a lot of stuff that we are now just learning. They have already proved that they can take over industries that have been there forever, and which probably also thought that they would be there forever. Our role as professionals is to make sure that we will remain relevant. But we need to accelerate and become much more agile.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
The belief that we will always be here. Historically, we have always thought that the barriers of entry to the industry were high enough for all of us to survive. But of all the different things that Tesla has proved, one is the fact that those barriers are not that high any longer. Also, we see that there are other industries that are more skilled than us in things that are very relevant today; companies such as Google or Amazon, or even companies that don’t yet exist today, but which could be better than us in data management, educating the consumer -- things that could be more relevant tomorrow.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
If you think you can do it, you will.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Do not accept any of the theoretical constraints you hear about from so-called insiders. The industry needs fresh minds and fresh blood, people who are hungry to deliver the next mobility revolution.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
What I am doing now: defining an ambitious and sustainable growth strategy together with my team, as well as defining the structure and the plan to turn it into a reality.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
One that allows me to keep blending operational and strategic dimensions while keeping me away from political games. No limits! My father once told me, whatever you do, make sure it is something that lets you rest easy at night. By being a straightforward guy, I have always gotten a good night’s sleep. The more complex things become, of course, the more flexible you need to be, but you must never stop being yourself -- because if you stop being yourself, then who the hell are you? That’s the point, and so far it has worked for me.
What do you do to relax?
Swimming and trekking. It’s crucial to burn off the stress built up during the day’s challenges through physical activity.
What was your first car?
Lexus RX 450h.
2015-present: President and CEO, Toyota Spain, Madrid
2012-2014: Marketing director, Toyota Europe, Brussels, Belgium
2011-2012: General manager, product planning division, Toyota Europe, Brussels
2006-2010: Marketing director, Toyota Spain, Madrid
2003-2005: General manager, brand division, Toyota Spain, Madrid
2000-2002: Launch manager, product planning division, Toyota Europe, Brussels
1995-1999: Assistant manager, aftersales division, Toyota Europe, Brussels