CEO of Porsche Canada Marc Ouayoun is a leader in innovation and the automotive industry. We spoke with him about the steps he took in attaining the leadership position he has today and what the future of Porsche will look like. From Porsche’s new #DriveDefinesHer initiative to Porsche’s leadership in the EV Space. Marc offers invaluable insight into the industry and what it truly takes to be at the top of your game.
How did your past experience lead to your role as CEO of Porsche Canada?
I think that there is no real magic recipe, because there are a lot of factors that can influence your career but you need to have the right ingredients. In my case, it was education because I did my Masters Degree in Marketing in France. Passion is also a very important ingredient; since I was young I was passionate about cars and especially Porsche. Today, that passion is also enthusiasm for what I’m doing, the people I meet, the customers, the club members, and my team. It’s also about experience and having the right experiences. In my case it started with marketing but I quickly moved away from marketing because I wanted to see different areas of the business. I had an opportunity to work in customer relationship marketing and at the operational retail level. I think the best thing you can do is to work at the Director level because that helps you to develop your leadership skills. The last ingredient is your values, what drives you in life, what are your leadership values and what cultural elements are important to you.
What do you think is one of the most important things to consider when you’re managing a large team?
As a CEO, it’s your leadership style, and how you motivate people around you to deliver on the vision you have for the company. It’s always important to keep an eye on the vision, but also not to forget to be operational, to go into the detail of implementation. If you are just strategic, maybe you will define a very bright strategy, but at the end of the day, what will you execute? If you are just about the execution, you may miss the big picture. So I think it’s a combination of both.
But leadership goes hand in hand with the company culture. Because for me, one of the first things you do when you arrive in a new company is that you try to understand the culture and you try to steer the culture in the direction that you think is good for the company. So this is what I tried to do when I arrived in Canada; understanding how people work. The values of the company and the culture is as important as the strategy.
One of the common threads among all successful CEOs seems to be a solid morning routine. Do you have one that you follow?
Of course but with the pandemic, it’s a little bit different now. But my routine is that I wake up relatively early. I wake up at 5:15 or 5:30. Then before having even breakfast, I have a look at the news because I have really a fresh brain, then look at my emails, especially because I’m working with Europe, and you have lots of emails coming in the morning. So a quick look at the news, followed by a quick coffee and then I go for a walk, or exercise. Even when it’s snowing or raining I like to go for a one hour walk because it’s great to oxygenate your brain and I think when you walk your ideas are really clear. Then I start my work day at eight o’clock, but what I also like to do is prepare the day before, especially at the beginning of the week. I like to work in the late afternoon on Sunday to prepare the week because Monday is important. But yes, it’s important to have a clear morning routine and then you are good to go.
Porsche is a very innovative company that is in the EV space now, and has eBikes coming out. What role do you play in bringing new products to the Canadian market?
We are involved at a very early stage with discussions about the product portfolio and the strategy. We are also a part of discussions to adapt our strategy to the local Canadian environment, which is very important for me because Canada is a vast country. It’s important that we listen a lot because from Quebec to British Columbia to Ontario, it’s so vast and you have such a diverse customer base and diverse expectations.
So my team and I work to really define the best sales, marketing and PR activities to position the brand in Canada to reach out to the different target groups for us. We are also trying to reach a young demographic because we have a very long history in Canada, but it’s important for us to attract new people to the brand. We are working a lot on that and creating brand value, with roadshows and lots of local and national marketing activities. Of course, last but not least, take care of our customers and our approach is very customer centric. We focus on going beyond the customer’s expectations and building legendary customer relations, while providing a great service level.
We have more than 90,000 Porsche cars driving in Canada. At the end of the day, we have a small team in Canada, but a very engaging team.
What trends do you think we’ll see in the industry in the coming years?
The industry is really at a crossroads at the moment because we’re in the middle of a new era for the entire automotive industry. Because of this, all these trends, like electrification, digitalization and sustainability are very important. For Porsche, our strategy is to move towards electrification. That’s by far the most important and we think that by 2025, half of our cars will be electrified, either hybrid or fully electric. 80% of our cars will be electrified by 2030. So the intention of the company and the vision of the company is to be totally carbon neutral by 2030. So that means being ahead of the Paris Climate Agreement; we need to lead and show the way forward by having a fully electrified model lineup plus a few traditional cars like the 911. But for all the other cars, we think that we can really combine the Porsche DNA with tradition and innovation.
Outside of the vehicles, the whole company is focusing on reducing Co2 emissions from our vehicles to our factories. Like the factories where the Taycan is being produced, which is already carbon neutral. We want to invest more than 1 billion euro, within the 10 years just for the decarbonisation of everything. Now we are already using trains as much as possible to transport our cars to the different locations in Germany and boats to get the cars to Canada.
Lastly, if you could give one piece of advice to young entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Be resilient. That’s the most important for me. Never give up. Then be passionate. If you’re passionate about what you want to do, you can really go a step further than the others and be creative. Creativity, for me, is so important. With creativity, you just question everything and can come with great ideas. And maybe there is only one idea that you will realize out of five, but the fact that you question and question yourself is the most important because that one idea could make the difference.