What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I have had a genuine passion for cars and motorcycles since I was a child. I still love the design, speed and innovation that a car can offer. My first job was at Ford Credit Europe in Italy, where I worked as a marketing specialist. From the moment I started in the industry I knew I picked the right career path.
Your greatest achievement?
Building my current team. They are the best. I have had a chance to work with many people over the years but this group truly cares. It is made up of great professionals and shares a common vision. It’s great to know that I can support them in finding their own path and at the same time continue to grow our division. Of course it helps that I have a wonderful family at home. They truly support me in all I do.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Quite a few years ago I was faced with a situation where in my heart I knew how to proceed but I was convinced to do otherwise. When you are starting out and you don’t have a lot of experience you tend to let yourself be swayed by others and their opinions. This was wrong. I should have fought until the end and stuck to my beliefs. I learned that you should never compromise when you believe in a good idea.
What is your current challenge at work?
I try to keep my team’s motivation at the highest level every day. I want to keep challenging them so they strive to be the best professionals they can be. We are in a very competitive industry so having a motived team helps to keep business growth on track.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
The speed at which our industry has changed over the last few years because of the advancement of technology in vehicles. It is truly impressive. We face many challenges, from keeping up with the competition to improving our innovation. At the same time the auto industry still manages to ignite passion in people with the products it generates. Not many sectors can say that. It is something we should be proud of.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Be yourself, everybody else is already taken.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
It’s important to love the product you are responsible for. If you don’t love it, you have to learn to love it. And if that doesn’t work it’s better to give up and move on.
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
I would set a clear, relevant and very challenging goal but one that is achievable. I would visualize this goal and make it the company’s motto. This goal would have to be shared by the entire team. I would like to incorporate a concept our CEO, Johan van Zyl, often uses and one I find very helpful. He calls it “the little steps approach.” I feel that even big goals can be achieved by taking little steps. Even if they are just small changes, it’s still important to look at every detail, take action, be consistent and perhaps even a little bit restless in the pursuit of your goals.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
Whatever I end up doing, I hope my next job will keep me as motivated for the next 20 years as this one has for the last 20 years.
What do you do to relax?
It’s important to take time for yourself to have a fresh perspective when you return to work. That’s why I love to travel with my family. I can also relax when I read novels.
I drove a Y10 Autobianchi, which the rest of the world knows as a Lancia.
2015-present: Managing director, Toyota Italy, Rome
2013-2014: Director of marketing strategy and public relations; director of Lexus brand, Toyota Italy, Rome
2012-2013: Director of marketing strategy; director of Lexus brand, Toyota Italy, Rome
2010-2011: General manager marketing, Toyota Italy, Rome
2008-2009: Senior manager of product planning and marketing, Toyota Europe, Brussels, Belgium
2006-2007: Senior manager of pricing, Toyota Europe, Brussels
2002-2006: Manager of product and pricing, Toyota Italy, Rome
1999-2002: Sales zone manager, Toyota Italy, Rome
1999-1999: Assistant marketing manager, Mercedes-Benz, Rome
1999-1999: Zone manager, Ford Credit Europe, Rome
1997-1999: Marketing specialist, Ford Credit Europe, Rome