David Degrange, 39
Digital enterprise project director (chief digital officer), Faurecia
Family: Wife, Delphine
Born: Saint Chamond, France
Languages: French, English, Italian
Education: Mechanical engineering degree, ISAT (Institut Superieur de l'Automobile et des Transports), Nevers, France
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
Production supervisor in a Valeo plant. I am definitely a "car guy." Automotive has always been my passion. I chose my engineering school with the sole purpose of becoming part of the game.
The turnaround of an account I was in charge of. The first key was getting the customer to understand the value we could bring to them, and that our strategy could fit their expectations 100 percent. We provided a global answer, one single voice around the world, focusing on one project. We managed smart communication between all the geographies: the U.S., Europe and Asia. We turned the account around within five years, which was something the customer valued a lot.
Biggest failure and what it taught you?
Losing good talent. It taught me that people management is key and that the sky's the limit if you have the right engaged, focused team.
What is your current challenge at work?
Acting as an acceleration platform to create value for the group using digital transformation and leveraging technologies. I am definitely a sales guy. So following my period as a sales director for an account, the company started thinking about digital transformation. The group wants this initiative as a business project, which is why they picked me, somebody from the business side of things. When you talk about technology, it's easy to make the mistake of just adding more technology for technology's sake. But the real challenge is to create value through technology, to be the digital master -- to have a clear understanding of how technology can improve old-school manufacturing in a company like ours.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
There are a number of things, starting with the accountability, commitment and passion of the people that drive this innovative business; the constant challenge to create value and to fight for competitiveness; and the capacity of this industry to think more and more globally, but to act locally.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Work hard, but never forget to celebrate.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Never give up. Anything is possible in this business.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Visit plants and meet people in order to create a common vision.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
A job that combines product challenges, customer management and operational excellence in an international environment: for example, general manager for a region or product line.
What do you do to relax?
I play golf. I really like to play in Portugal and Mauritius.
A Peugeot 205.
I drive a Renault Laguna station wagon for business and a Porsche for pleasure.
2015-present: Digital enterprise project director (chief digital officer), Faurecia, Nanterre, France
2010-2014: Group key account manager and customer business unit director, Faurecia, Brieres, France
2009-2010: Business development manager, automotive seating, Faurecia, Brieres
2006-2009: Program manager, automotive seating, Faurecia, Brieres
2006-2006: Launch manager, automotive seating, Faurecia, Trnava, Slovakia
2005-2006: Human resources coordinator, automotive seating, Faurecia, Brieres
2002-2005: Operations manager, seating system, Lear, Lagny France
2000-2002: Industrial project manager, security systems, Valeo, Turin, Italy
1999-2000: Production supervisor, security system, Valeo, Abbeville, France