Eric Frappier, 43
Purchasing director, Sogefi
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I started my career with internships at Michelin and then Renault. My first job was with BMW Group at the company’s assembly plant in Munich. To me, it was a young boy’s dream come true.
Born: Paris, France
Languages: English, French, German, Spanish, some Swedish
Education: Bachelor’s degree in engineering, UTC Compiegne University of Technology, Compiegne, France; executive certificate in advanced general management, HEC Paris, Jouy-en-Josas, France
Your greatest achievement?
I can think of two and both are related to changes. The first achievement was a personal one. I was able to successfully transition from BMW in Germany to a smaller Tier 1 supplier, Sogefi, in Spain. I had to adapt to the company’s size, its culture and also get used to living in a new country. The second achievement is professional as I smoothly transitioned from technical activities to a more business-focused role when became a manager within purchasing. Both cases required adaptability and hard work.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
I don’t like to call them failures because you always learned from them. Sometimes I’m impatient and push the organization a little too hard to get quick results. I have found that it’s sometimes better to let things flow at their own pace, trust the team and at the end of the journey you will find success.
What is your current challenge at work?
We have to adapt our organization to the permanent changes resulting from the evolution happening within the industry. The challenge is to anticipate and be prepared for the next changes that wait around the corner.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Always be the best at what you do, even if you don’t see the sense in doing more or being better than the competitor. Things usually change quickly so it will be an advantage if you push yourself to take on new challenges.
2015-2016: Purchasing director, Sogefi Air & Cooling, Orbey, France
2014-2015: Global commodity manager, Sogefi Purchasing, Guyancourt
2009-2014: Purchasing commodity manager, Sogefi Purchasing, Guyancourt
2006-2009: Quality director, Sogefi/ISSA, Alsasua, Spain
2001-2006: Quality engineer, BMW Group, Munich, Germany
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Be aware of how important resilience is in this job. A career in the automotive industry is a long, intense journey. There are requirements to fulfill and there are always new challenges to overcome. Be ready for a turbulent but tremendous adventure.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I would like to lead a business where I could use all of my automotive world experiences. This could be in the transportation, luxury or services sectors.
What do you do to relax?
I like to spend time with friends and visit art exhibitions. What frees my mind the most, however, is taking on do-it-yourself projects at home. It gives me great satisfaction to see the job done.
What is your dream location to live?
My dream location would be a place that features a cosmopolitan capital city that is close to a warm seaside as well as mountains to enjoy during the winter. It should also have to have a major airport nearby to make travel easy. So far, I haven’t found this location.
What is your favorite driving song?
“Song 2” by British rock band Blur.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
There are several but two stick out. One was in Europe where I traveled from France to Italy via Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. I was still a student and used the trip to visit my former classmates. That trip was all about discovering new countries and cultures as well as staying connected to my best friends. More recently I embarked on a 5,000-km road trip through Mexico. I drove along the gorgeous Yucatan highways and explored many uncomfortable dirt roads full of what the locals call topes, which are speed bumps and potholes. It was a true adventure.
What was your first car?
I drove a Citroen 2CV convertible. It was such a great car. I remember driving it through Paris with friends as we celebrated France’s 1998 World Cup victory.
I have a BMW 3-Series convertible.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
An iconic Porsche 911 Carrera 4S convertible. To me this is a reliable and highly performing sports car. An added bonus is that the car lets you enjoy sunny days while driving with the top down.