Frank Kremer, 42
Aftersales director, Nissan Europe
Family:Wife Britta; son, David Luis, 9; daughter, Lia Paulina, 5
Born: Wesseling, Germany
Languages: German, English, French, Italian
Education: Master’s degree, industrial engineering (with an emphasis on business), Koblenz University of Applied Sciences, Koblenz, Germany; master’s degree, civil engineering, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I started as a key account manager for a logistics company distributing vehicles and parts for Renault. I was interested in the industry because of its large-scale logistics. After I completed my second engineering degree, I found the opportunity to be involved in the annual distribution of thousands of vehicles and parts packages very enticing.
What was your big break?
I was fortunate to be able to play a significant role in a major automotive industry project. The objective was to reorganize logistics across the company. It was my responsibility to set up two distribution centers. I also had to completely change the parts distribution for German dealers based on a business study, implement project planning and have the project go live. This generated a lot of dealer satisfaction with the brand and resulted in increased customer loyalty in our aftersales business.
Your greatest achievement?
I am proud I was able to juggle earning my second engineering degree while working full time as a site manager in the construction industry. I had to manage several sites simultaneously while studying at night and on weekends. This was very significant because it showed me how empowering and motivating it is to have a positive outlook and work toward a new career. In my case, to be employed in the automotive industry.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
During my career change from civil engineering to industrial engineering, I am afraid that I probably placed too much focus on salary and potential status while evaluating job offers. Instead, I should have looked at the opportunities for personal development the jobs could provide. This taught me to pursue a career path with a strong focus on day-to-day responsibilities. And these have to be in line with my personal aspirations, motivations and capabilities.
What is your current challenge at work?
Preparing the company's dealers for the substantial changes they will be facing in the automotive aftersales market in the not-too-distant future. That's a substantial challenge, especially because many dealers seem to underestimate the changes that lie ahead. Another major objective is to improve dealer profitability by helping them generate customer satisfaction in the aftersales market. An example would be to develop and spearhead a customer contact program.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
I've been surprised at the modest pace of development of information technology for the automotive industry. However, now that there is a new focus on connected mobility and autonomous driving I wouldn't be surprised if this helps the automotive IT landscape develop more rapidly.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
My first boss told me to not be afraid, to be open to change and be confident that with a sound mixture of a good understanding of my own skills and a willingness to develop missing ones I would always be presented with new opportunities.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
You should have a passion for automotive products, be willing to accept change and be open to new challenges.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
I would spend as much time as possible with customers and staff to fully understand the views and needs of both. This would enable me to set goals to satisfy customer expectations without being unrealistic, thus maximizing efficiencies and optimizing results. I would then set up a midterm plan for achieving these goals, with regular reviews of progress and results.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
My future job should allow me to have real responsibilities and duties so I can contribute to the company's success doing what I do best. That includes strategic analysis and planning, developing my team and dealing with customers.
What do you do to relax?
I love being outdoors with my family, especially in the mountains. I hike, bike and ski. I also love to meet with friends to discuss life and its challenges.
What is your pet peeve?
Lack of openness and honesty in relation to personal responsibilities within a team or organization; saying something that's not true, or failing to accept responsibility for personal shortcomings.
What was your first car?
A red VW Golf II GT.
A Nissan X-Trail 4x4. The car offers great technical features, is fun to drive and practical.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
A VW California because it is practical, uncomplicated and always ready to go anywhere.
April 2016-present: Aftersales director, Nissan Center Europe, Urdorf, Switzerland
2014-2016: Aftersales field manager, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Switzerland, Zurich, Switzerland
2011-2014: Director planning and logistics, FCA Switzerland, Zurich
2007- 2011: Head of logistic aftersales, FCA Germany, Frankfurt, Germany
2005-2007: Key account manager, CAT LC, Cologne, Germany
2004-2005: Account executive, UPS, Stuttgart, Germany