Luka Trapic, 41
Head of powertrain platform, Ferrari
Family:Wife, Stephanie; daughter, Josephine, 6
Born: Montbeliard, France
Languages: French, Italian, German, English
Education: Master's degree in technology and innovation management, University Paris Dauphine, Paris, France; master's degree in project engineering and bachelor's degree in economical science, Louis Pasteur University, Strasbourg, France
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I am from Sochaux-Montbeliard, France, the heartland of Peugeot. I spent all my summer holidays working in several production departments, from the foundry to final assembly. You could say my interest in anything related to the automotive industry is part of my DNA.
I started as a financial controller of worldwide prototype development for PSA/Peugeot-Citroen. My role was to control the budgets of all prototype projects.
Your greatest achievement?
I was able to successfully rectify a difficult situation by re-starting stalled talks with a key supplier, which led to a highly productive agreement. The toughest part was re-establishing the dialogue after the relationship has deteriorated over a number of years. My comprehensive negotiation skills, which I have acquired while working with different automakers, enabled me to get everyone talking again, at which point I took over the negotiations. I am proud to have been able to restore mutual respect on both sides of the table. This trust-based relationship remains solid to this day.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Some years ago I was working with my team on complex components that required a specific production setting from a non-European supplier. We faced several critical quality and timing issues. Because of this, we started micro-managing. It took us some time to realize that we weren't properly accounting for the different cultural and industrial philosophies. This caused significant difficulties and put our project targets at risk. It took time, but by streamlining communication and having just one person handle talks with the supplier, we were able to get the project back on track. This taught me how important communication is and to never underestimate cultural and industrial differences.
What is your current challenge at work?
I have been head of the powertrain platform for the road car division at Ferrari since 2013. My job is to manage all interdisciplinary teams for each project for the development and industrialization of all Ferrari engines. My key priorities are to ensure the sustainability of all projects by guaranteeing a high net present value with high flexibility, while still meeting Ferrari's best-in-class technical performance levels and quick development turnaround.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
I'm not so much surprised as confused as to why the car industry clashes with the technology industry. On one hand, carmakers are competing against companies such as Google and Apple to offer connected cars. On the other hand, the manufacturers and their suppliers are reluctant to adopt the inventive processes used by these companies. This is a missed opportunity, especially when it comes to their short time-to-market achievements and the way they develop innovative ideas using out-of-the-box thinking. If the automotive industry embraced such processes, it would significantly strengthen its capacity to innovate.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Trust your feelings and follow your intuition.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
They should see the automobile as a key element of our society and not just as a consumer good. A car is a pure expression of passion, combined with design, mechanics, technology and innovation.
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
My mission would be to focus on two fronts.
1) Look for untapped potential and then establish a way to direct more cash toward solutions that increase the company's competitiveness and its capacity to innovate.
2) Develop and strengthen synergies and partnerships to increase the company's expertise in areas where it may lack crucial know-how.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
Those who have worked with me know that I run my area as if it were my own company. In the future, I would like to increase my responsibilities and run my areas with a higher level of entrepreneurial leeway.
What do you do to relax?
I can't relax when sitting still. I am always out and about, enjoying Italy and my passion for cars. Luckily, my wife and young daughter share the same mindset.
A 1979 Citroen Mehari, which was fun to drive and gave me plenty of opportunities to practice basic mechanics.
My company car is an Alfa Romeo Giulietta. For pleasure I drive a Porsche 911.
2013–present: Head of powertrain platform, Ferrari, Maranello, Italy
2011–2013: Head of California product line, Ferrari, Maranello
2009–2011: Powertrain purchasing manager, Ferrari, Maranello
2006-2009: Program manager Prince engine project between BMW and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen (now PSA Group), Munich, Germany
2005-2006: Planning, resources & technical configuration manager, PSA, Paris, France
2003-2005: Project purchaser & team leader, PSA, Paris
2000-2003: Financial controller of worldwide prototype development, PSA, Paris