My motoring inspiration: Adrian Davies
In this article: The Jaguar Land Rover big cheese explains why he’s just as enthusiastic about this evolving industry now as he was when he was 12
What triggered your interest in the motor industry?
At 12 my dream was to own a garage. My best friend’s father owned some franchised garages in the south east and in the holidays we would help out, stacking parts and cleaning cars. I really enjoyed the buzz and the environment.
How easy was it to get into the industry?
When I graduated, BMW owned Rover Group and had one of the best graduate schemes in the country. I applied but was rejected. Bitterly disappointed, I rang the recruitment team to ask for feedback; they said the intake was already full from people who had completed summer placements or worked for them in a gap year. So I offered to work for free for six months. Three months later one of the graduates resigned and they offered me his place.
How did your experiences in positions outside the motor industry transfer to where you are now?
As a management consultant, going into different businesses and cultures, meeting lots of new people, trying to understand what’s happening and quickly make a demonstrable difference has taught me to approach things with an inquisitive mind. You have to ask lots of questions, use data to gain insights and learn to trust your senses.
As head of organisation development for a FTSE 100 firm I gained lots of experience around change management on a large scale; critically the need to engage all stakeholders and make it personal with a ‘what’s in it for them’ – ideally tied to a higher purpose. Too often, focus is on the strategy or the task and those impacted are not taken on the change.
You’ve been on the board of the IMI since 2013. What made you want to have a greater involvement with the institute?
I’ve been an active IMI member throughout my career and I am committed to the development of talent in the industry. When a place on the board become vacant in late 2012 it felt like a natural move to use my knowledge and skills to repay the industry and those within it for the career it has given me and for those who maybe haven’t had the same opportunities that I have had.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Post-VW dieselgate in September 2015, a key pillar of the VW Group recovery plan was the creation of the Sports and Luxury Brand Group of Porsche, Bentley Motors and Bugatti Automobiles. As the secretary general of Bentley and supporting Bugatti, I was tasked with leading the project to create this group.
It was a fantastic project to be involved in, requiring me to operate across the brands at all levels, within three distinct organisational cultures and multiple locations to identify and drive through a savings, cost avoidance and revenue programme to deliver against a multi-million pound target.
One year in, we achieved 148% of the target, got to present to the VW Group board and this approach became the benchmark for subsequent brand groups. It’s one of my proudest achievements.
What advice would you give to someone looking at the motor industry as a career path?
Come and join the transformation! The industry has always offered a huge range of career opportunities and the potential for life-long learning; and with new technologies and emergent business models, the old rule book is being torn up – creating an even more fast-paced environment.
Adrian Davies is Strategy, Governance and Process Director at Jaguar Land Rover and a non-executive director at the IMI.
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This is an edited extract from IMI's new MotorPro magazine, received free as part of IMI membership. Time to find out more about becoming a member of the most influential community in UK automotive...?