What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first job in the automotive industry was an electrical engineering role in Nissan Europe. It was the fulfillment of a childhood dream to work in the industry. For as long as I can remember I wanted to design cars. As a child my drawings were always of cars. My parents likely thought I was strange, I regularly sketched not only the exterior of cars but also detailed interiors.
Your greatest achievement?
I’m very proud of making a move from engineering to a sales and marketing environment, which was a big cultural change. I’m so proud of the team I’ve built. This group is now driving the company’s future product strategy and integrating brand thinking into all stages of the product development process.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
In my youth, I felt like I failed my A-levels (secondary school exams), even though I passed them. I always wanted to design cars but during a discussion with my school career guidance teacher, I was told I “should think of something more realistic.” This put me off-track for a few years. I chose the wrong subjects at school and didn’t do as well as expected. I think it’s not unusual for young people to become a bit lost at this stage and it taught me a very valuable life lesson. I took a year off from school to consider my options. Then I enrolled in engineering at university and never looked back. I worked hard from day one, enjoyed every minute and got excellent results. The initial failure gave me resilience and the opportunity to analyze what I wanted out of life. And, most of all, it taught me that with hard work I could achieve whatever I wanted.
What is your current challenge at work?
Planning the future lineup, cars and technologies for Nissan in Europe and Russia. It’s a challenge because the world and consumer needs are changing so fast, but I believe Nissan is well-placed for the future with strong positions in electric vehicles and autonomous drive technology.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
We are approaching a tipping point for the industry. I see huge challenges ahead, disruption from incumbent firms and outside players, too. But with this turbulence comes huge opportunity for those willing to embrace change.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Allow your team to take responsibility to do their job. You will understand if you have ever worked for a boss who micromanages everything. It is not healthy. Giving the team autonomy while supporting them is by far the most fulfilling way for a team to work. It leads to excellent results and a highly motivated team.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
If you want to succeed you have to be passionate about what you do.
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
Communicate a compelling vision both internally and externally then align the organization to that vision and enable the team to deliver. If I was ever in a position to be CEO that’s what I would try to do.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
It’s hard to be definitive. I’m a product guy so I want to be close to the product. I have worked in engineering, marketing and strategy so far. I would like to lead the creation of future products and strategy globally, so a role where I could combine multiple disciplines would be a good target.
What do you do to relax?
Spend time with my family, especially in the mountains. I also enjoy walking, cycling, climbing, skiing and snowboarding.
Nissan Leaf (I’m also a geek for classic Nissan Skyline GT-Rs and have owned two in the past).
2014 – Present: General manager, advanced & cross carline product strategy, Rolle, Switzerland
2013 – 2014: General manager, advanced product planning, Paris, France
2012 – 2013: Manager, brand strategy, Rolle
2010 – 2012: Manager, electrical design & test, Cranfield, England
2009 – 2010: Manager, IT/ITS design & test, Cranfield
2006 – 2009: Senior engineer IT design & strategy, Cranfield
2004 – 2006: Engineer, IT design, Cranfield
2003 – 2004: Engineer, telematics engineering, Atsugi, Japan
2001 – 2003: Graduate engineer, Cranfield