Xavier Dupont, 45
Vice president transmissions, Valeo
Family: Wife, Marie-Helene; daughter, Clarice, 18; sons, Hadrien, 15, and Theo, 6
Born: Paris, France
Languages: French, English, some Italian and German
Education: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, universities of Lille and Tours, France
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I finished my studies during the 1993 slowdown in the European market, so I was ready to accept any type of opportunity in any industrial sector. I received four job offers and chose Valeo thanks because of the substantive training programs it offered during the first year of employment. I have never regretted this choice. I've always had a passion for cars.
My family is my greatest achievement. I am especially proud of how we are able to find a balance between my professional constraints and our personal lives. It is a tough juggling act, but we work together to ensure that we never lose sight of what is most important.
Biggest failure and what it taught you?
My inability to gain acceptance at the Ecole Polytechnique [an elite French engineering school] was a personal failure for me. I had focused my preparation uniquely on this school and had no plan B. This served as a true lesson for me in my professional life. I no longer envisage any project without having a backup plan available and ready to be applied.
What is your current challenge at work?
Ensuring that our business grows and improving the profitability of our existing products, while also preparing the next generation of products. With the coming growth both for the OE segment and aftermarket sales, it is key to monitor the rollout of our industrial plans and to make sure that our new plants, joint ventures and additional industrial capacities are implemented on time.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
It surprises me every day, in both good and bad ways. Many times it's bad at the beginning and good at the end. This is the beauty of the automotive world. Our teams are working in an extremely tough environment and they are able to propose solutions each day to change challenges into opportunities.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
My father told me: 'Respect each person you meet and find the best in her or him.'
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Be ready to think black, do white and obtain grey.
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
Meet the teams, customers, suppliers and shareholders. Listen to them and understand the strategy in order to build an even more ambitious one together.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I would just like to continue to work with motivated people and teams passionate about what they do. This could be as the CEO of a global company, but it could be also as the coach of a sports team. The choice depends on the challenges to be faced.
What do you do to relax?
I play golf, run, and enjoy the time I have with my family.
It was a Lancia Delta Integrale 16V. This car was a rally champion and was a devil to drive yet at the same time it was very safe. I was very young and made a lot of driving mistakes, but without any real consequences.
2011-present: Vice president transmissions, Paris, France
2008-2011: Director, clutches, Amiens, France
2006-2007: General manager, passenger car transmissions, Amiens
2005-2006: General manager, connective systems, Paris
2000-2005: Plant manager, French division passenger cars, Amiens
1997-2000: Production manager (molding & treatment of lights), Blois, France
1995-1997: Technical manager (lighting), Blois
1994-1995: Methods manager (lighting), Blois