"Does it add value?" is something Jeff ponders every day
STORY BY Jeff Mannering – Managing Director, Audi Singapore
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all”. I also believe that when you work, work hard. I have worked at Audi for more than 20 years – it has been fun, but there has also been a lot of work.
Working at Audi has taught me many things. Part of this learning is experiencing very different cultures in Australia, the Middle East and now Asia. Being lucky enough to work and live in three regions has been an invaluable experience, because it gives you different perspectives on how things should be done.
A lot of my friends say that I have the best job in the world, “You get to drive nice cars and travel the world”. Well, I do get to drive the best cars in the world but the travel is mostly plane, taxi and office. This is where the work is done, where you have to put in the time, effort and commitment. Still, experiencing these nice cars is an important part of the job that has to be done.
My responsibility is to ensure that we add value to all the stakeholders in the value chain, from the headquarters, to suppliers, to partners and customers. We do this through the products and the way we communicate, as we continually finding ways to innovate. This has always been the case, because you have to change with the times.
So much has changed over the last 20 years. A lot of work used to be done over the telephone and fax, as well as time in front of a desktop computer. Today, it’s the iPhone in the pocket, Skype and video conferencing; you are constantly working because you are constantly connected. “Teddy” Roosevelt’s wisdom about playing hard has never been more relevant and we need work-life balance like never before. Whilst we are constantly connected, you still need downtime to do the things you enjoy and recharge your batteries.
The speed of technological innovations adds new dimensions to every industry, which makes things more interesting and exciting. As an example, we are no longer limited to the physical space in a showroom to present a car. Our virtual configurator allows you to render the car to your “dream specifications” while you are relaxing at home or browsing the internet. You don’t have to imagine what the new A8 will look like with contrasting stitching on its Valcona comfort seats because you can ‘see’ it with our VR technology.
What does this mean for me personally? One challenge is the perception of value creation with new technologies. Another challenge is the speed at which technology improves and being able to stay ahead of everyone. I believe in approaching these new developments from a customer’s viewpoint and asking the simple question, “Does it add value?” A good part of my workday is spent finding the answer to that very question. After all, when something doesn’t add value, it can’t be worth doing right?
At the end of the work week, I like to indulge in a few things that I love, and that’s a fine glass of red wine and a steak on the barbie. Now, these are certainly a few things that add value...
(This column was first published in TopGear Singapore #77)