Neil Marsons, 38
Global purchasing director for chassis and supply chain design, Jaguar Land Rover
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first job was as an apprentice in 1996. I was interested in getting into the automotive industry because I wanted to work in a busy, diverse, fast-paced and challenging environment that offered the potential for personal and professional growth.
Born: Coventry, England
Education: Post-graduate diploma in engineering business management, University of Warwick, Coventry, England; bachelor’s degree in business administration, Coventry University, England
Your greatest achievement?
My two children and my family are my greatest personal achievement. Professionally, what I am most proud of is my current role within Jaguar Land Rover. I feel very privileged to be in a position where I can positively influence the company’s future.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
That happened early in my career when MG Rover went into administration and I had to find a new job. This experience taught me that personal resilience, hard work and the ability to adapt are critical characteristics for a career in the automotive industry.
What is your current challenge at work?
As a business we are undergoing a transformation, so a lot of my time is spent dealing with both specific issues and broader related topics. It’s a really exciting time to be working at Jaguar Land Rover – but it’s not easy – balancing my time across a large number of key topics as well as trying to achieve a work life balance is a constant challenge.
2006-2012: Supply chain manager and regional purchasing manager, manufacturing; regional purchasing executive, Rolls-Royce, Derby, England
2005-2006: Operational parts delivery manager, Honda UK, Swindon, England
2000-2005: New model coordinator, manufacturing; global logistics manager, MG Rover Group, Longbridge, England
1996-2000: Suspension and components commercial apprentice; sales and marketing executive, Dunlop, Coventry, England
What about the auto industry surprises you?
Nothing ceases to surprise me. The pace of change is amazing. The challenges are increasingly complex and varied. I keep using the phrase, “Change is the new normal.” I say this during nearly every meeting. I think it sums up the state of our industry.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help and brave enough to ask for it.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Talent alone won’t guarantee success. Working in the automotive industry is hard work but it’s thoroughly fulfilling and enjoyable. It also helps to have a passion for what you do -- it’s the magic cocktail of talent, hard work and passion that will continue to drive our industry forward.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
At some point I would like to get to the board of management level within Jaguar Land Rover. However, as long as I am in a role at Jaguar Land Rover where I am adding or creating value and making a difference toward the long-term sustainability of the business I’m happy.
What do you do to relax?
Along with spending time with family and friends I like to keep fit by running and playing football. I also enjoy attempting to be a mechanic on my 2004 MG TF.
What is your pet peeve?
I don’t like bad manners. Saying please, thank you or well done doesn’t cost anything, but it means a lot.
What was your first car?
A 1987 1.0-liter Ford Fiesta. I don’t think I ever drove it above 50 mph. I was too scared it might break.
A Range Rover 4.4 Autobiography.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would be a Land Rover Defender because of its go-anywhere spirit, genuine capability and composure.