Darren Cox, 39
Global motorsport director, Nissan Europe
Family: Wife, Sally; daughters Faith, 12, and Imogen, 10; dog, Minnie
Born: Newmarket, England
Education: Bachelor's degree in modern history, economic history and politics, Royal Holloway University, London.
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first full-time job was in the not-so-glamorous role of a collections clerk for overdue Renault finance accounts in Northern Ireland. My dad worked in the industry all his life, including stunt driving in TV ads, so I was immersed in the industry from an early age. My brother also caught the bug and works in Formula One.
Professionally it's nurturing my simple idea, the GT Academy, into a global "franchise" and to still have the same core people running it. Personally, it's my little family.
Biggest failure and what it taught you?
I got seven no's to proposals for new motorsport programs before I got a yes. It taught me to always learn why it was "no" and to integrate this lesson into the next proposal. I also learned not to take a no from someone who will never say yes.
What is your current challenge at work?
Continuing to deliver high-profile, high-return projects frugally.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
How much power marketing agencies have over automotive marketers. It has meant our industry has been slow to invest properly in new channels. There is too much PowerPoint theory and not enough trial and error.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Don't let your passion turn into emotion. This gets ignored every three months.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Get your hands dirty early. I don't care if you have an MBA. Do you know what makes a customer, sales executive, fleet manager, franchise holder or aftersales receptionist tick?
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
Get the best team around me. You are nothing without good people. Create a vision together. Go sell the vision. Sell it until we were bored from hearing it. Then sell it again.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
One that I don't want to retire from.
What do you do to relax?
Go on adventures with the family. Do normal "bloke stuff" (sports, pub, ski, gamble on horses, drive fast). Ride my pedal bike – last adventure was London to Paris.
A 1984 Mini (a proper one – not a BMW). I've still got it, in 1,000 pieces in a garage.
Nissan Leaf and Nissan Juke Nismo. (A true yin and yang).
November 2012-present: Global motorsport director, Nissan, London, England/Yokohama, Japan
February 2012-October 2012: Brand director, Nissan, Geneva, Switzerland
2010-2012: Chief marketing manager Juke, Qashqai and Sports, Nissan, Geneva
2008-2010: Interactive marketing manager, Nissan, Paris, France
2006-2008: Motorshow, sponsorship and events manager, Nissan, Paris
2004-2006: Product manager small and sports, Nissan GB, London
2002-2004: Area operations manager, Renault UK, London
2000-2002: Area sales and marketing manager, Renault UK, London
1996-2000: Various roles, Renault Finance, London