Xavier Martinet, 45
Senior vice president, chief marketing officer, Renault
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
At 18, I worked on the Renault assembly line in Flins, France, for three weeks. It was my summer job, and I wanted to discover what the industry was all about. This experience made me want to seize the opportunity to work in the automotive sector.
Family: Wife, Agnes; son, Alex, 16; daughters, Laura, 13, Lena, 3
Born: Fontenay-aux-Roses, France
Languages: French, English, Italian, Hungarian
Education: Master’s degree in management, Rouen Business School (now NEOMA Business School), Rouen, France
Your greatest achievement?
Renault Italy achieved an all-time record market share and volume last year while I was managing director.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
It was actually more of a huge shock than a failure. In 2007, two of my 10 salespeople resigned right after I took over as sales manager at a French car dealership. Another three quit the following year. That’s when I came to understand how important human resources are to the sales team. Without a stable team you cannot build anything.
What is your current challenge at work?
I recently started as Renault Group’s chief marketing officer. The scope is very wide as it includes brand portfolio management, product launches and lifecycle management, optimization of pricing and net revenue, customer experience improvement to name a few. The key challenge is about prioritizing, in a context severely challenged by the coronavirus pandemic.
January 2020-present: Chief marketing officer, Renault Group, Paris, France
2018-2019: Managing director, Renault Italy, Rome, Italy
2015-2018: Marketing director, Renault France, Paris
2013-2015: Country manager, Renault Portugal, Lisbon, Portugal
2010-2013: Senior manager, product marketing, Nissan North America Nashville, Tennessee, USA
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I was once told, “When you are a manager, people expect you to decide.” You are more likely to be criticized for not making a decision than for making a bad one.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
If you are in sales and marketing, make sure you gain some experience in retail to understand how the business works.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I’m lucky because it’s the position I started a few months ago.
What do you do to relax?
I really like to go running with my dog.
What is your dream location to live?
My wife and I really enjoyed the two years we spent in Portugal. We believe this could be a great place for retirement. However, that’s still a long way off.
What is your favorite driving song?
I really like the song “Sultans of Swing,” by Dire Straits.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
Driving together with my family from San Francisco to San Diego. We had the most wonderful time exploring California at our own pace.
What was your first car?
A white Renault 4 GTL.
A Renault Espace.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would love an AC Cobra. However, with three kids and two dogs I would probably need a classic seven-seat SUV so we would still go off the beaten path.