What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first automotive job was with Mercedes-Benz in Germany where I started in an international management program after finishing university in 1996. I always had a passion for sports cars and was excited about joining a global and dynamic industry.
One of my recent achievements was the successful restructuring of a plant without any disruption of deliveries to customers. This was the result of a team effort supported by key initiatives, such as the launch of a training program for all employees (both those departing and those staying). We implemented industry best practices for lean manufacturing and continuous improvement. We also encouraged the team to use their imagination and know-how to set and execute actions to regain the plant’s competitiveness. These initiatives helped us increase customer satisfaction and performance. This successful outcome was achieved by establishing a clear mission that kept us focused, as well as by building trust and credibility and showing respect and appreciation. One of my personal achievements was climbing the Thorung La mountain pass in central Nepal. That was an unforgettable adventure.
Biggest failure and what it taught you?
Two business partners and I set up a start-up B2B trading platform in China many years ago. At the time, it was the first online platform with niche technology of its kind in China. We ended up exiting the business because of conflicting views among the main stakeholders. The lessons I learned from the experience were the importance of establishing a common vision and mission; of having the will to execute the plan; and of putting your heart into what you believe and what you do.
What is your current challenge at work?
As I recently joined Faurecia, my current challenge is getting to know my new team well, inspiring the team to become strong business partners, and helping the team members to reach their full potential. Simultaneously, I have been immersing myself in the organization, the products and processes to support operational performance, strengthen our market position and deploy our “Being Faurecia” cultural change.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
That it is so very competitive and that there is such strong passion and desire to initiate and lead the next big trend.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Be ready to change yourself before you try to change the world.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
This is an exciting, dynamic journey, so be passionate about what you do, be resilient and courageous, embrace the industry’s global reach, never stop learning and have fun.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
I would start by getting to know the employees and key external stakeholders, making sure I fully understood the organizational culture, the business environment, and the level of operational and financial performance. With this knowledge my team and I would develop a common vision that would be shared with the entire company. I would put together a great management team and ensure that we had the right people in the right places to support and execute the strategy.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I enjoy what I am doing and my focus is on doing it well. In the future, I hope to increase my responsibilities and become a better leader by further developing my credibility and competence.
What do you do to relax?
Have a laugh with friends; travel with my wife. I also like outdoor sports and nature.
Renault 5 GTL Sport.
BMW 3 series.
2014-present: Vice president of finance for interior systems, Faurecia, Nanterre, France
2012-2014: Managing director, Naeher Automotive (a division of Magna International), Stuttgart, Germany
2011-2012: Vice president of finance, Magna Interiors and Exteriors Europe, Frankfurt, Germany
2007-2010: Chief financial officer, Mercedes-Benz Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia
2004-2006: Manager, controlling Asia, Daimler, Stuttgart
1998-2003: Manager, finance, Mercedes-Benz China, Hong Kong and Beijing, China
1996-1997: International management associate program, Mercedes-Benz, Stuttgart and Bogor, Indonesia