Q&A with Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles' CEO

Meet Thomas Sedran

Thomas Sedran, former managing director in our German team, took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions on his career to share with our alumni network. 
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"What is the one big learning you took away from your stint at AlixPartners that you still apply to your work?"

Embrace diversity – at AlixPartners I learned to appreciate the power of teams with diverse backgrounds. It takes expertise in strategy, sales, manufacturing, engineering, accounting, legal and many others to solve complex challenges. Listening to each one of them helps to find the best solutions for a specific challenge.

"Why did you choose to be a consultant at the beginning of your career? What did you like about that line of work?"

I worked as an analyst and chart producer for a consulting firm to finance my studies at university. I liked working in a team of talented and motivated people helping various clients to solve new challenges.

"Was there a critical turning point in your life when you decided you’d spend the majority of your life working in the auto industry? Were there any shifts you had to make to move to an industry role from consulting?"

When I moved to Roland Berger, they had just started their automotive practice. I happened to join the team by chance and progressed pretty fast in my career there, ultimately leading Roland Berger’s global auto practice. At the age of 40, I realized that my ultimate career goal would be to run an automotive supplier as CEO or COO. AlixPartners proved to be the perfect platform for me to develop additional skills needed for such jobs.

"What are some of your personal goals for 2019?"

On the professional side, at VW Commercial Vehicles we are in our first year of a big, disruptive transformation. There are some important milestone decisions we need to make in 2019, e.g. a number of additional contracts we need to agree with important cooperation partners. On the private side, I aim to spend quality time with my family, with friends and of course stay healthy.

"Why is it important to stay in touch with old colleagues and how do you do so?"

There is a large group of ex-colleagues at AlixPartners that I highly appreciated for their expertise but also for the camaraderie we share. Staying in touch with them helps me also to stay tuned with their latest insights.

What is your top people management rule?

Embrace diversity. I am interested in people, what their individual strengths are, but also what their personal needs may be and how I could be of help to them.

"What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?"

Winner of the Wimbledon men’s tennis tournament, the next Björn Borg.

"How do you stay healthy while traveling, working from different time zones, etc.?"

Eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired. If time allows a bit of running, swimming or yoga. In winter time, I love to climb and ski mountains.

"What are your favorite books/articles you read in 2018? Why?"

The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim is a book about how to apply Lean Manufacturing techniques to software development. A must read for “old” industry leaders who have to develop software skills.

"What are your hobbies that have nothing to do with work? How do you find time for them?"

I love to ski and have a strong passion for mountaineering. I have different skis in use, depending on snow conditions and which summit we plan to do. Beyond that, I like swimming, running, and yoga. In my calendar, I reserve two evenings during the week for exercising of which one would typically work.

"What car do you drive?"

Of cause I drive a “Bulli” – the icon of commercial vehicles. Out of our family fleet, I love my Golf GTE. It allows me to get electric between my home and the office. The car I am really looking forward to driving is the ID Buzz -  an electric, iconic van which I am responsible for developing and marketing. This one will be truly exciting!

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