Panayiotis Pitsikos, 44
President, managing director, Autostop
Family: Partner, Roula; daughters, Artemis, 10, and Dimitra, 12
Born: Athens, Greece
Languages: Greek, English
Education: Started working at age 12, learned everything by doing
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I got a job at a small workshop for automotive interior parts when I was 12. I went from cleaning the floor to learning how to apply glue on the carpet floor of the vehicles. The more I learned, the more I enjoyed it, and I decided to take it further.
Personally, my family. Professionally, becoming a Q1 supplier for Ford, the highest level there is. Being a self-made company, that is a really great achievement.
Biggest failure and what it taught you?
In 2008, I invested a huge amount of money to prepare the company for some big future projects. Then the global financial crisis hit the industry, with the result being we lost most of the money. I learned to hold back in spending funds until I have the business insight figured out.
What is your current challenge at work?
Suppliers and customers don't trust Greek companies. They think, "Uh oh, troubles." But from a project position, we are in a pretty good position. We export 99 percent of our products – we have nothing to do with the Greek market and economy.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
The level of innovation. I follow the trends and developments, and new things are constantly coming up. Our OEM customers are now calling on us to fulfill weight reductions.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
This was given to me when I was really young: Measure three times and cut once.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
You need to have your eyes and ears open to follow the trends at the big OEMs. Most of them are trying to have global suppliers, for example. Don't stay local, go global.
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
The first thing that you need to do is make sure you're working with trustworthy people. Then you can start creating your vision. Without your team, you don't have anything. You have to be open and share your dreams and goals.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I would like to be a captain on a big yacht. That's my dream for when I'm 50 or 60 – I would like to sail around the world. After my company reaches a certain level, I will be able to pass it on to my children or my shareholders.
What do you do to relax?
From April to October, I go sailing almost every weekend. I also go horseback riding with my daughters. It wasn't very interesting sitting and watching them ride, so I started myself.
A red 1981 Toyota Corolla DX. My brothers and I had eight or nine accidents with this car, but we kept fixing it. It was an amazing car.
A Lexus GS 450h hybrid. I love the technology of hybrid cars.
1995-present: President and managing director, Autostop, Athens, Greece
1991-1995: Ran a one-person workshop in Athens