independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Grilling the boss TWENTY QUESTIONS FOR Simon Elliott of VOLKSWAGEN GOLF NUT: VW Ireland's Simon Elliott with a classic Beetle

If you were a car, what car would you be?

The Volkswagen Golf – very practical, hardworking, reliable, withstands the challenge of time, not expensive to keep and maintain, hopefully liked by a lot of people.

What's your favourite road?

The one leading to home after a hard day at work, but for driving pleasure it's probably the roads up at Sally Gap in Wicklow.

What would you do with your last litre of fuel?

Put it in my boat and have a right good blast.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done in a car?

A very risky overtaking manoeuvre in my VW Caddy racing van – there's evidence somewhere on YouTube.

What's the fastest you've ever driven (legally)?

Legally, probably 193kph on the autobahn, but on an airfield I drove a 580 BHP Audi RS6 which is electronically restricted to 250 but on the clock I was approaching 282kph. This was on a 3km straight.

What cars would be parked in your Lotto garage?

That's easy. I have a hankering for an orange Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. I don't need a collection, just that one car would be fine, thanks.

Who taught you to drive?

To start with, my dad, but then I had lessons in a Mini with a proper instructor who didn't shout at me as much.

As a child, what car did your family have?

My dad was unique – he'd buy whatever he saw in a showroom, but normally it was a Ford Capri (he actually had vinyl roofs fitted).

What was your first job?

Other than my paper round, and potato picking in the summer, I was a clerical trainee at a company called JH Fenner in Hull, England.

If you could switch careers, what would you do?

Chairman of the FAI.

Who do you most admire in your industry?

It would be easy to say Professor Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the board at Volkswagen Group, but I most admire those automotive dealers of all brands, who on small margins employ many people, generally offer customers great deals and service and are a part of the community in which they operate.

They have had a very tough few years, but still they push on, supporting their manufacturers and customers, believing the industry will once again offer them better returns in the future.

What was your best career decision to date?

When I came back from living and working in China with Daimler Chrysler I was headhunted to come back to Volkswagen after 25 years. Saying yes, that was the best career decision I ever made, and then it was coming here to Ireland – it's a tough market but it's a wonderful place, we love it.

Do you have a personal business philosophy?

Treat people as you would expect to be treated yourself.

What is on your car stereo right now?

A Beady Eye (effectively ex-Oasis minus Noel Gallagher) album called Different Gear Still Speeding. I was and still am a huge fan of Oasis. My desert island disc, though would be Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell.

One item you couldn't live without?

Lots of them, really, but it has to be my iPhone (bit of a boring answer, but so true).

What three people would you want to be stranded with on a desert island?

I thought about celebrities, friends, celebrity chefs to cook for me, adventurers to help us survive, a boat builder to make a boat to sail away, but the simple fact is my wife and two kids would be the best company – and we'd survive.

How do you relax?

I play golf and walk Murphy, our miniature schnauzer, (watching Scunthorpe United isn't relaxing).

What's your favourite sporting venue?

Glanford Park, the home of my team, the not-so-mighty Scunthorpe. I feel at home when I go there.

Describe yourself in one word.

Motivated.

Simon Elliott is the CEO of Volkswagen Ireland who has guided the group to its first No 1 sales position. The former Scunthorpe United director, when not following the 'Irons', is a golf fanatic. He is married with three children and lives in Dublin

Irish Independent

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