Patrice Bony, 45
Lean manufacturing director, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen
Family: Wife, Laurence; sons, Antoine, 14, Baptiste, 12, Gaspard, 9
Born: Cusset, France
Languages: French, English, some German and Spanish
Education: Degree in mechanical engineering from Compiegne University, France; MBA courses from Insead, Fontainebleau, France, and ICG, Toulouse, France
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
When I was a student, I wanted to work in an international company in an industrial product market. Instead of spending compulsory time in the military, I chose to participate in a program to develop French industry abroad. I worked at Valeo in Wales from 1993 to 1995. It was an extremely rich first experience that allowed me to learn how a company runs.
To have been able to do what I like – for example, improving the performance of a plant in terms of quality, productivity and delay. I've built my career around an objective of operational excellence. So far so good.
Biggest failure and what it taught you?
I once quit a job where things were going well but weren't moving fast enough for me. I was frustrated by a change in management at the time. A few months later, management changed again. This was a big lesson for me that sometimes you need to be patient, even if things aren't going the way you want.
What is your current challenge at work?
To beat the competition. I am building a "war machine": a production system to transform company improvements, and to continuously capitalize on the work done by 60,000 people worldwide. Improvements at PSA have always been driven by the technology. We have very competent engineers. But progress needs to come not only through technology, but through ways of working. We need to do more with less and work smarter, not faster.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
In this business, it is very difficult to predict what will happen. You never really know if a car will be a strong seller or not. When I was in the USA 10 years ago, for example, I saw the price of energy and thought that the big cars would become smaller. That hasn't happened. People have found other ways to solve the problems of the cost of energy without reducing the size of the car.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Be patient with people, engage them, and let them try and learn! And get them to accept and buy in.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
You need to have a world vision, so get international experience. Be prepared for a competitive, fast-moving business. You need lots of energy – everything is moving all the time in this industry. There is no end, so get ready for the journey!
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
Learn the history of the company to understand why it is where it is today. Understand what has happened. As someone once said, "He who does not know his history is doomed to repeat it." When a new manager arrives and doesn't respect the complete story of the people who have worked there before him, it creates a big gap.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I really like my job now. But in terms of development, I would like to continue in operations excellence, but in the complete value chain, from design to sales. Today I'm responsible for operations excellence in production only.
What do you do to relax?
Spending time with my family. I travel a lot, so this helps me maintain a good work-life balance. I also enjoy sports and nature.
It was a Peugeot 104. The first car I bought was a three-door Peugeot 306 Diesel Turbo.
Citroen DS5 Hybrid.
2008-present: Worldwide excellence system director in production & supply chain (lean manufacturing director), PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, Poissy, France
January-August 2008: Lean Six Sigma project manager, Snecma, Evry, France
2003-2008: Production system efficiency (PSE) director of the business group components, Faurecia, Brieres, France
2002-2003: Production manager, Valeo Connective Systems, Labastide-Saint-Pierre, France
2001-2002: Project manager, Valeo Motors and Actuators, Rochester, New York, USA
2000-2001: VPS (Valeo Production System) manager, Valeo Motors and Actuators, Rochester, New York
1997-2000: VPS trainer, Valeo Management Service, Creteil, France
1995-1997: VPS manager, Valeo Wiper Systems, Issoire, France
1993-1995: Methods manager, Valeo Wiper Systems, Hengoed, Wales