Managing Director: Group 1 Automotive
Darren Guiver studied Retail Automotive Management at Loughborough, graduating in 2001. He has since worked in high level positions within the automotive industry, and is currently the Managing Director of Group 1 Automotive. Here Darren shares some elements of his career journey so far.
I chose Loughborough’s new BSc in Retail Automotive Management. It was a degree that very much appealed to me and it was also Ford Motor Company sponsored.
The whole learning experience was without doubt my favourite element, it was great being pushed and being able to broaden my knowledge base with different approaches to problems or opportunities. My time at Loughborough most definitely shaped the way I behaved and approached my work.
After being a Divisional Director at H R Owen I completed a management buyout with Kim Richardson who was my partner and Finance Director. This was three Audi locations in North London with 126 employees turning over circa £50 million in July 2006. We built this company up to 16 locations and 750 employees turning over £460 million until selling to Group 1 Automotive in January 2016, I now work for them.
As a Divisional Director I looked after 9 locations representing different vehicle marques. My role was to ensure that we achieved the budgets set for the wider PLC, fostering positive manufacturer relationships, creating a positive team culture with a clear vision for all.
As a Managing Director for Spire Automotive, what were your day-to-day tasks and how did you develop the necessary skills to work at this level?
It's very difficult to define day to day tasks, as you have to wear many different hats when stepping away from a PLC environment, the support network you once enjoyed in a larger organisation is no longer there and as such you cover much more yourself - especially in the early stages.
Clearly in the early days cash control was key with large borrowings to support, also property matters became more relevant and as we acquired more businesses other skills became important. My role was constantly evolving and adjusting to ensure that as the business grew we had the right resource to support everyone in relation to our size.
The strategic thinking played a big part ensuring that as we grew over that 10-year period our structure could accommodate growth with our management team developing from the ground up as we went on our journey.
Much the same as it ever did to be fair - save for the fact that the larger support structure exists as it did before within a PLC. Clearly I am no longer the primary decision maker, that doesn’t mean however that I feel lack of autonomy, just that more heads are involved as a general rule. Ensuring the smooth transition of Spire Automotive into Group 1 has been a major part of my role as this more or less doubled their presence in the UK.
Yes lots, too many to count and some more testing than others, but every challenge can be overcome - some just take longer to crack than others. Patience is an absolute virtue in many instances.
I am not really sure how you measure success yourself so I cannot say that I have ever thought that. I think I have a long journey ahead of me and when it comes to a close career wise, maybe that’s the time to reflect on such things.
The management buyout of the three Audi locations without question - it was a long time ambition and has been the highlight of my working life so far.