Name: Patrick Fourniol
From: France & Germany
Current job title: Head of Marketing, Al-Futtaim Motors – Toyota
When did you arrive in the UAE?
I landed in Dubai a few months ago to take up my new role and my family joined me a few weeks later.
Where did you work prior?
I joined Al-Futtaim Motors from Renault Germany, where I was Marketing Director for Renault since 2011. Prior to that, I had served Renault’s head quarters as VP Marketing Communications Worldwide. Earlier, I led the communications activities of Volkswagen in France. I am no stranger to Toyota either, as I was fortunate enough to serve the brand for four years at Toyota Marketing Europe (TMME) as Regional Senior Manager Toyota Sales Operations.
What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East and how have they changed?
Western audiences seem to have little knowledge of the Middle Eastern media scene, so awareness is low and perceptions are misleading – mine included. When I arrived in the UAE, it was refreshing to see that the width, breadth and level of sophistication of the local media scene is on par with those in more mature western markets. I have also come to realise that print media, especially daily newspapers, are very resilient despite the challenges presented by the advent of digital, and continue to maintain their circulation and subscription volumes. However, I believe that it’s only a matter of time before print media in this region starts reinventing itself to appeal to the information consumption habits of the new generations who have grown largely accustomed to social media and online platforms.
Tell us about your new role at Al-Futtaim Motors…
My focus is on marketing management across all activities: new car sales, aftersales, pre-owned, SME and retail. This involves brand management, communications, events, advertising and last but not least, digital.
Toyota is a brand and company I know quite well and love working for, and is certainly a leading brand in the automotive world. Al-Futtaim Motors has a clear and ambitious vision and I hope to be able to contribute to its success by introducing some fresh and strategic thinking in the way we devise, plan and implement our marketing activities. Contributing to the company’s further success is a very exciting and rewarding prospect for a passionate marketer like me.
What challenges do you face?
When you work for a brand and company that you love and respect, there is little in your professional environment that could be deemed as ‘challenging’. I prefer words like ‘stimulating’, ‘exciting’, or ‘inspiring’ whenever I am presented with something out of the daily routine – my comfort-zone so to speak. Rising up to these situations and working hard and strategically to overcome the odds is the key to unlocking the full potential of individuals, teams and agencies.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Delighting customers, impacting the company’s bottom-line and helping people live up to their maximum potential. When I have done my best to deliver on any given project and when I see the same work ethic and results-driven approach in every member of my team, I know I have done a job for which I can be proud. Collegiality, trust, integrity and mutual respect between associates is also a rewarding aspect of my work at Al-Futtaim Motors.
What’s the most exciting thing to happen so far?
I have already been fortunate enough to participate in the creation and development of a number of marketing campaigns that have had a very positive impact on the business. I wouldn’t want to use any specific examples because every campaign, every project and every initiative which I undertake is of equal importance to me, and I am a great believer in the power of consistency – make sure to have a look at the upcoming campaigns.
What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?
As a non-Arabic speaker, I can only judge the quality of the UAE’s English media which I find to be very good – I can only imagine the challenge of grasping the interests of such a blend of nationalities. The motoring press is in a particular good shape, with expert journalists who are outspoken and passionate about cars and know the auto industry inside out.
What sets you apart from other marketers?
My career has allowed me to combine my interest for cars, design and advanced technology with my passion for brand management. I have a proven track record in contributing to building significant business and brand equity for some of the world’s leading automotive companies. I am multilingual and used to working and living in multicultural environments, and I excel both in strategic thinking and attention to details.
Work calls via landline, mobile or both?
Nothing matches face-to-face communication.
What’s your most overused saying?
Think and act G.O.S.P.A!
Set your Goal and Objective before you develop any Strategy, Plan and Action
Five things you can’t live without?
My family, my team, fun, ambition and French cheese.
If you weren’t a marketer, what would you be?
An architect – I admire their ability to blend art, design and functionality for places where people live and get inspired.