Emmanuel Levrat, 43
CIO, Banque PSA Finance, PSA Group
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first job that indirectly had to do with the automotive industry was when I worked for an Earth map company. I was responsible for mapping urban areas using a very disruptive technology. I acquired imagery from different U.S. cities, processed the data, produced high-resolution maps and a digital terrain model. Telecommunications companies used this product to optimize their network’s infrastructure. I can still remember driving my car collecting fresh imagery from my area on a laptop connected to a GPS. Although automakers launched the first GPS systems in the 1990s, the technology remained quite limited. We didn’t manage to turn any automakers into new customers. However, I understood then that there was huge potential for connected cars.
Born: Oyonnax, France
Languages: French, Spanish, English; some German and Portuguese
Education: Master’s degree in engineering, Ecole Superieure d’Electricite - Supelec, Paris, France
Your greatest achievement?
As an IT professional, I’m very proud to have set up and managed teams and organizations that have demonstrated the power of agility. I feel completely aligned with PSA’s DNA because agility is one of our three corporate values along with win together and efficiency.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Before joining PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, I spent a few years working as a consultant. During one assignment the workload was intense and the deadlines incredibly tight. One Christmas Eve I actually found myself left behind at the client’s campus. I was locked in. It was late and cold. The security guard had disappeared. Out of desperation I didn’t follow security procedures. Instead I was filmed as I climbed the wall to get outside and go home. A few days later, my boss coldly informed me that the client requested that I leave the assignment. In fact, I had already been replaced by another consultant. This event taught me to be less impulsive. As I found out you can ruin a very good job for a very bad reason. However, later I also understood that I needed to work for managers whom I could trust and who would stand up for me during difficult times. I’m a manager myself now. I always try to have my colleagues’ backs.
What is your current challenge at work?
I spent three years starting and operating IT at the PSA Customer Digital Factory. Now I have joined Banque PSA finance to lead its IT department. I’m discovering that it’s quite a different world. It has its own culture and rules. Of course, it’s very much linked to the automotive business, but at the same time it follows different standards and governance principles. Bridging industrial and banking mindsets is definitely my new challenge.
2017-2019: Vice president of digital engineering for sales and marketing, PSA Group, Paris
2016-2019: IT program manager, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, Paris
2014-2015: CRM IT manager, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, Madrid, Spain
2009-2014: Consultant, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, Paris
2006–2008: Consultant, Accenture, Paris
2002–2005: Engineer, ISTAR, Nice, France/Washington D.C., USA
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I follow Steve Jobs’ advice, who said: “It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” These are wise words and I try to keep them in mind whenever I have the opportunity to hire someone or to set up a team.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
If you are looking for an industry that is able to offer you the greatest transformational playground you have come to the right place.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I want a job where I can unleash the power of new technologies to transform the business. Lately I have had the opportunity to work with PSA North America’s team on a very promising program. It could be a game changer when it comes to traditional automotive customer experience in the U.S.
What do you do to relax?
I try to exercise as much as possible. I like to swim twice a week and I do yoga.
What is your dream location to live?
Any southern European city that close to the sea from Athens to Lisbon will do.
What is your favorite driving song?
It depends on my mood but Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” is high on the list. I would also add “Looking for Paradise” by Alejandro Sanz featuring Alicia Key. This single reminds me of the unforgettable years I spent in Spain.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
The drive from Paris to Aveiro in Portugal. My future wife had an 18-month professional assignment there. I really enjoyed seeing the landscapes between Burgos and Viseu during the drive.
What was your first car?
You might want to count the Citroen 2CV in my parents’ backyard as my first car. Although I never took it out on any road, I definitely spent a lot of time pretending to drive it. As a 5- or 6-year-old, I imagined taking it all over the world. Then, I inherited my parents’ Audi 80. It hit 200,000 km when I turned 20. It made that road trip between Paris and Aveiro several times.
I drive a Peugeot 5008 GT Line. The seven seats are a necessity for us right now, but I don’t want to give up the pleasure of driving something fun. This is a good compromise.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would be the Peugeot e-LEGEND concept car. To me, it’s the perfect combination of style and technology that was designed by Peugeot’s unrivaled styling boss, Gilles Vidal.