Carlos Lahoz, 41
Director sales, business planning and supply chain management, Kia Motors Europe
Family:Wife, Maria; daughters, Martina, 7, Carlota, 5
Born: Zaragoza, Spain
Languages: Spanish, English, Italian, German
Education: Post-graduate global professional program, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; MBA, Instituto de Empresa, Madrid, Spain; bachelor's degree in economics, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first automotive job was with Opel as fleet and RaC (rent a car) key account manager. I fondly remember the initial challenges of negotiating my first fleet deals and delivering RaC volumes before the peak season began. It was great fun. That's one of the reasons why I chose the automotive industry.
Your greatest achievement?
It was building a new European operations department at Kia from scratch. Five years ago, Kia decided to re-define the way we were doing business in the sales area. I liked the project from the beginning because it was similar to being part of a start-up. We got back to basics, hired a competent team, revised business processes and added value to Kia's European organization. The goal was to strengthen business processes and support sales volume growth. For example, we implemented an innovative supply chain management framework that has completely changed the way we run our operations in Europe. As a result, we have significantly improved delivery times and dealer satisfaction.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
In one of my previous positions, I was too slow in identifying the need to reorganize my team and some of their job functions. When I took action it took twice as long as it should have to rectify the situation. It taught me the importance of having a motivated, high-performing team from the very beginning.
What is your current challenge at work?
Being in sales, one challenge is effectively distributing the vehicles we produce to ensure we have optimal stock levels of each model in every market, which helps reduce transportation lead times. In addition, my team is responsible for the coordination of Kia Europe's long-term strategy. That requires us to take multiple points of view into account so that we can balance the different needs and priorities of our stakeholders.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
I'm amazed at how dynamic and innovative the automotive business is. Very few industries have the capacity to shape the way people behave and to contribute positively to their lives. This industry is working to address future mobility challenges such as congestion, pollution and noise with game-changing solutions such as autonomous driving, car-sharing and e-mobility.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Surround yourself with the best people you can find then given them the freedom to propose new ideas and to innovate. If you select average people you will achieve average results.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Have fun, be passionate about what you do, challenge the status quo and never stop dreaming
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
As I've seen at my current company, it's important to create a culture that promotes innovation, new ideas, teamwork and talent development. People need to feel free to create and innovate as well as challenge current company processes or ideas. Then it is necessary to review the strategic direction of the company from the ground up, creating a clear long-term vision and ensuring everyone in the organization knows and embraces it. Finally, I would make sure that we can count on having the right resources and infrastructure in place.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
One that will keep me on my toes. It needs to be a job that is complex, challenging and fast-paced and also contributes to my growth as a professional. I enjoy being asked to improve performance, achieve better outcomes or boost productivity. My worst enemy at work is boredom.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy relaxing with my family and friends. We love to travel, especially to warm, sunny beaches. Also, every week I do some physical fitness training because once you are over 40, it's mandatory to exercise. It's great for your body and mind.
Opel Omega, which was my company car.
2011-present: Director sales, business planning, supply chain management and operational efficiency, Kia Europe, Frankfurt, Germany
2010-2011: Head of planning, budget and logistics, Kia Iberia, Madrid, Spain
2008-2010: Fleet, rent a car (RaC), remarketing and used car director, Fiat Group Automobiles, Madrid
2006-2008: National RaC and business-to-business fleet sales manager, General Motors Spain, Madrid
2005-2006: Forecasting, research and business intelligence supervisor, GM Spain, Madrid
2002-2005: European brand supervisor for the Opel Astra, Zafira, Speedster, GM Europe, Rome, Italy
2000-2002: Assistant brand manager for the Opel Corsa, Meriva, Frontera and light commercial vehicles, GM Spain, Madrid
1998-2000: Fleet key account manager, GM Spain, Madrid