Infinite in the quest for growth

HK-based Infiniti Motor Co chief Roland Krueger believes there's only one way to climb up the corporate ladder - know your business thoroughly and fight for success tooth and nail. He talks to Sophie He. 
Hong Kong-based Infiniti Motor Company - the first global automotive enterprise to set up headquarters in the SAR - perhaps, knows best when it comes to dealing with and getting the best out of the world's biggest market for new cars, the Chinese mainland. 
In the words of Roland Krueger, its president, localization, a good dealership network and new service products are the prerequisites for staying afloat or competing in China. 
Infiniti came to Hong Kong in 2012 and remains the only global automobile firm that has sunk its roots so deep in the city, having identified this part of the world as one that offers boundless growth opportunities. 
"We want to be here, we want to develop our team, we want to develop our organization, and capture the consumer preferences and everything we need to capture to develop our businesses in this part of the world, especially in China", says Krueger. 
To develop the brand into a top-tier global player, it has to have the right set of organization, especially the right people. So, what the company is doing here is to attract a wide range of and diverse talents, to bring them into the organization and help Infiniti grow its business, he says. 
In an interview with China Daily, Krueger stresses that China is, indisputably, the world's biggest market for new cars. With more than 24 million vehicles sold annually in the country, there are enormous opportunities for every company in the automobile business, and Infiniti is resolved not to miss out. 
In terms of differentiating itself and better competing in the Chinese market, he thinks the first thing is to know exactly what to achieve - and that is to localize the products. 
"So, we've already localized two products on the Chinese mainland. We will launch more cars this year and another localized product next year." 
Extending its tentacles, Infiniti has teamed up with Wuhan-based mainland auto giant Dongfeng Motor Corp and started local production since September 2014. 
While focusing on localization, Krueger believes that being able to develop a diverse leadership team and a vast network of dealers is also critical to the business, especially when China's economic growth has stabilized. 
Long-term partnership  
The dealers network is an important part of the company, so Infiniti is focusing on a good, constructive and long-term partnership, he says, adding that the mainland market has been normalizing in terms of growth, which is still very good growth although, compared with the past, it has slowed. 
"In this phase, obviously, your business partnership with the dealers needs to increase revenue and growth opportunities on top of new cars." 
Infiniti will continue to launch new cars and add services products, finance products, after sales, as these are not only important for business development, they help to make the company's customers more loyal. 
"With rapid economic growth, you try to bring in new customers, but with the normalization of growth, you also need to loyalize your existing customers. These additional products will definitely help us do the job." 
Krueger, born and raised in Germany, received a degree in industrial design from the University of Applied Science in Munich in 1992. His first job was an interior and exterior designer with Mitsubishi Motors Europe, working in Germany and Japan. 
He joined BMW in 1998 as a strategic product planning manager, and rose through the ranks to become senior vice-president at BMW Group in 2013. 
In January last year, Krueger was appointed president of Infiniti Motor Company and senior vice-president of Nissan Motor Co - Infiniti's parent company. 
"It's a good opportunity, the growth opportunity is great. We're a fairly small team and I like to keep it very small, fast and efficient. We're able to implement things in a very fast way," he says. 
Passion and teamwork  
In his view, success is judged by the results, by the team's development. Besides, the passion and a "never give up" attitude are instrumental. Building up a good team is a must to achieve great results. 
"It's important that we talk about vehicles and cars. But, actually, we're in people's business, so people do make a difference. If you have a good team behind you, a good team that can drive the business, that will make a difference in the market, which is why we need to develop a team and a structure with right people there. Usually, success will come after that." 
As a business leader, Krueger banks on a philosophy he summarized as vision, focus and accountability. 
"It's very important that when you lead an organization, you have to remind your organization to follow the same ideas. You can call it a dream or a strategic direction, then you carve out exactly what you focus on, and you purely focus on that and nothing else." 
"You need to give everyone in the team or the organization the right level of accountability and responsibility, and hold those team members accountable for what they do, given that they know what to focus on," Kruger maintains. 
"So, it's kind of a circle that closes. If you have all the same ideas about where to go, exactly what to focus on, and you give everyone the right level of responsibility, hold them accountable for it, and it will work." 

Source:China Daily

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