What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I started with Renault in 2000 in a special international program called Jeunes Internationaux. At that time, the company wanted to create a pool of young professionals who would be rapidly exposed to different areas of the business in different countries. I was looking to have an international career so this was a perfect fit for me.
Your greatest achievement?
Professionally, my greatest achievement was the rollout of Toyota’s hybrid strategy across Europe in 2013. Until then, hybrids were just another powertrain in our lineup. We managed to convince all the stakeholders to build a brand, product, sales and aftersales strategy around hybrids. Now, in 2018, we have achieved the targets we set back then. We wanted a 50 percent mix of hybrids, profit growth and brand differentiation. Today, it looks like a logical move, but at the time very few people were ready to fully commit to this plan.
Personally, my greatest achievement has been balancing two successful international careers, mine and my wife’s, while having three children. Sometimes it requires a lot creativity and some sacrifices, but so far we have succeeded.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
My biggest failure was when I couldn’t convince a talented person to remain in our organization. I did everything I could to get him promoted but, ultimately, he still decided to leave. Looking back, I would have done everything the same because I believe it is all about people in our business. However, I learned there some are things I can’t control. This is something you need to accept when running a business.
What is your current challenge at work?
I have spent years working at the heart of the automotive business in areas such as marketing, sales and aftersales. With my new job in mobility and connected car I feel like I have entered a new dimension of this business where disruption rules. What I know so far is that we need to identify a winning business model and incorporate it. But we also have to engage the necessary transformation of our organization so we can adopt this new business model. Innovation is in our DNA so I trust the task will ultimately be easier than it looks today.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
Despite traffic, pollution, costs and competing new technologies people still love cars and love driving. Our customers and the people who work in this business are excellent examples of this. Even younger generations who might appear to be less attracted to this business still can’t resist the attraction that this product generates. That is unique.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
You won’t go far without your team. True leadership is built on the capability to create a strong team spirit. This advice wasn’t given to me in words, I had the pleasure of experiencing this first hand while working with a couple of excellent bosses.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Prepare for one of the largest transformations ever experienced in business. Only join this industry if you have the right skills and mindset to tackle these challenges. We are looking for smart and brave people.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
My new assignment really is the job of the future. It is so stimulating and rich in opportunities that it is difficult to consider doing anything else. However, someday I would like to be the managing director of a major market.
What do you do to relax?
I read, travel, take pictures and watch movies.
What is your pet peeve?
I don’t like people who talk too much and have nothing to say.
What was your first car?
A Fiat Uno.
A Lexus RX 450 hybrid.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would be Toyota’s e-Palette concept car because it can adjust to many different needs.
2018-present: Mobility & connected car director, Toyota Europe, Brussels, Belgium
2015-2017: Director sales & aftersales operations; fleet & remarketing, Lexus Division, Toyota Italy, Rome, Italy
2012-2014: General manager product marketing, Toyota Europe, Brussels
2010-2012: Senior manager product planning, Toyota Europe, Brussels
2008-2009: Head of product marketing, Toyota Italy, Rome
2006-2007: Country sales manager; marketing manager, Toyota Europe, Brussels
2004-2005: Marketing attache, Renault, Paris, France
2000-2003: Marketing assistant; zone manager; team manager sales & aftersales, Renault Italy, Rome and Milan, Italy