CMO and CCO, Pendragon
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first automotive job was working in communications and partnerships for U.S. car retailers AutoNation. It was only after spending time in the industry that I decided I needed to experience the operations side as well and transition to the dealership world. Automotive seemed like a natural fit for me. I grew up around cars. I even had to scrape gaskets and help rebuild the engine in my first car after I threw a rod through the piston wall racing it. At least I won the race, however, my father didn’t see it the same way.
Your greatest achievement?
Getting back up after being knocked down.
Born: Denver, Colorado, USA
Education: Master’s degree from Columbia Business School, New York, NY, USA; bachelor’s degree in English, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Initially, I tried doing too much too fast. Just because you have the skills and the ability to execute a new process it doesn’t mean the business side is ready for it. I learned that I have to make sure everyone is ready for the changes and can properly use, carry through and handle the increased flow before implementing something. There is no worse experience for a customer or an associate than overpromising and underdelivering due to capacity.
What is your current challenge at work?
Repositioning the company to increase our focus on the customer and their overall customer experience. Over the past few years, we have changed our approach. We are now focused on every aspect of the journey. We continuously test and make adjustments based on what we learn. We always try to improve the customer experience. This focus stretches across every department with a huge commitment from all of our associates. It’s a lot of work, but the payoff will be a better overall customer experience. It will drive increased retention and profitability for the business. The work done in this area led to my promotion to chief customer officer by our CEO, Bill Berman.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Believe in yourself, because if you don’t then no one else will.
February 2023 to present: Chief marketing officer and chief customer officer, Pendragon, London, England
2020 to present: Chief marketing officer, Pendragon, London
2013–2019: Various positions in marketing, communications and operations, AutoNation, Miami, Florida, USA (key milestone: getting AutoNation to be the title sponsor from 2012-15 of the Cure Bowl, an annual NCAA college football game that raises money and awareness for breast cancer research)
2010–2013: Chief of staff CEO and ownership, Miami Dolphins, Miami, Florida (key milestone: being a founding member of the Dolphins Cycling Challenge -- now called the Dolphins Cancer Challenge -- to raise money to fight the disease)
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Do it. The automotive industry is the toybox of life. It’s fun, no two days are ever the same and you get to work with cars. I would also highlight that the automotive industry of today is an exciting place to be because so much has changed over the last few years. I believe even more changes are imminent. There are more opportunities than ever in so many facets of the industry. It’s not just about sales and servicing. It’s about technology, marketing, customer experience, strategy, and so much more. This is a perfect time to get into the industry.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
That is a difficult question. There is currently so much ongoing change that I believe there will be positions tomorrow that don’t exist today. I don’t know that I can directly answer that question without knowing what tomorrow holds. What I will say is that I love the industry and whatever my next role is, I want to continue to drive advancement and inclusion in all facets of automotive.
What do you do to relax?
I don’t relax very well, but I do love boating. I think I’m most relaxed when I’m near the ocean or sea.
What is your dream location to live?
I have lived in some amazing locations. However, I would say the Amalfi Coast in Italy is somewhere I could see myself living for an extended period of time.
What is your favorite driving song?
The song “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
My favorite road trip was driving the Pacific Coast Highway in California from Laguna Beach to Monterey Bay in a Porsche Carrera S cabriolet. It’s an outrageously beautiful drive that takes you through Big Sur and into Pebble Beach. It was one of the most scenic road trips I have ever experienced.
What was your first car?
My first car was a 1976 two-door Ford Maverick with a dual grabber hood, glass packs, racing bars, a slap ship and a shift kit. Much to my dismay, my father equipped it with a “governor” to restrict the car’s top speed after some serious street racing.
A Porsche Cayenne S.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would be a 1957 Ferrari 250 GT California.