What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first automotive job wasmy role as CEO of m-way ag, a startup that imported and sold a little-known Norwegian electric car called the Think City in Switzerland. I took on that role because I was curious and wanted a challenge. It was also appealing because it was something completely different for me.
What was your big break?
My big break came when I took part in a leadership excellence program at INSEAD, which is a business school in Fontainebleau, France. The program, which is designed for executives, helped me develop a totally new view of myself and future ambitions. It taught me that I have a real gift for motivating people as well as creating and shaping organizations. It has influenced me to a large extent.
Your greatest achievement?
Personally, it’s retaining a youthful mind that is full of curiosity and joy while at the same time becoming a responsible father. That’s not an easy transformation. Professionally, I have tried to remain an idealist, despite some setbacks. I will always believe that a successful company has to influence the life of its customers and users in a positive, noticeable way. You have to be relevant in their minds -- and stay that way -- otherwise you will vanish within a few years. The customer shows no mercy. The user even less.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
I once stayed too long at a company that wasn’t right for me. It should have been my responsibility to fire myself a lot sooner because I was wasting my power as well as the company’s money because my output just didn’t match my earnings.
What is your current challenge at work?
It is to help push the companies we created to the next level. We want to optimize their scalability and acquire the right partners to realize their full potential.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
It’s amazing to me how long it takes for changes to take effect even though the challenges of the future are clearly visible and disruptive effects are already evident.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“If you have to micromanage, you did not micromanage your hiring process enough.” This isn’t a joke: I actually dreamed that Yoda gave me that advice.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Don’t stick to the so-called “rules” of the auto industry or any other industry. Try to be different and stay that way. Transfer know-how from other sectors and remain flexible. Avoid talking about business politics when you should be talking about entrepreneurship.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
As I am the CEO of a company, I can only tell you what I think is the most important thing to do when you start such a job: build an A-class team. As Apple’s Dan Jacobs said: “It's better to have a hole in your team than an asshole in your team.” You cannot deliver outstanding results with an average team. That doesn’t mean everyone has to be a Stanford graduate, but the chemistry is crucial and every team member needs to be willing to fight for his or her colleagues and support a shared vision.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I hope to always get the chance to do the things I like and I am good at. Since life is short, you should not waste time with things you dislike or that just don’t fit your character.
What do you do to relax?
I run, bike, ride my motorcycle and snowboard. I also accompany my daughter to her hockey and climbing training. In the evenings, I love to watch my favorite TV series such as “Westworld,” “The Blacklist" or "Sons of Anarchy.”
What is your pet peeve?
I don’t like it when people who are listening to cool new ideas immediately start to list all the reasons why the ideas will fail. I truly dislike that behavior. However, I admit that I sometimes act like this myself. Damn.
What was your first car?
A Volvo 340 Junior that I got it from my older brother.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would probably be a vintage Corvette or Mustang. But I would have to have a little makeover when it comes to the suspension and braking system.
2013-present: Chairman, sharoo, Zurich, Switzerland
2011-present: CEO, m-way, Zurich
2010-2011: Member of the management board, Migrol, Zurich
2008-2010: Co-founder and managing director, FIGO, Bochum, Germany