Hey Joe Lawrence, how did you become the chief operating officer of porsche?
If you look at Joe Lawrence’s resume, you’ll see a compromise car portfolio. Car salesman? B: yes. Nissan product training specialist? Yeah, that’s the same thing. You can even find 6 series of communication managers and BMW marketing director. At the top of the page is his current job as executive vice President and chief operating officer of porsche cars in North America.
So how could a guy in El Paso, Texas, sell a ford dealership to a porsche owner? It starts with education. Lawrence has a bachelor’s degree in economics from southern methodist university in Dallas, Texas, and an MBA from Emory university in Atlanta, Georgia. I sat down with Lawrence at the la auto show and listened to other stories.
What’s your first car?
Lawrence: the first car I actually paid for myself was nissan Sentra Sentra SE-R in 1991. I’m working for nissan and I’m using it as a rental car. Nissan sold it as a modern BMW 2002, a neat car. It is Sentra, a 1.8-liter engine with a manual.
What was your first car job and how did you get it?
During college, I bought a car at a ford dealership in El Paso’s hometown and I sold my car at the Santa Fe school. It’s a small-town dealer with six different brands. One is a porsche, but for my perpetual regret, I can’t say I really sold a porsche. We only sell two a year. In any case, I will not give this experience to the world. I’ve gotten a lot of dividends in my career because it’s important to have direct experience selling cars to customers. I think this is a very powerful experience as you progress in the automotive industry.
After college, I got my first job at nissan. I interviewed on the campus of SMU. They didn’t have a job. I kept in touch, but nothing happened, so I moved out of Santa fe and started selling cars. Six months later, they had client relationships. This is on the phone, mainly about some wrong calls. It’s a tough job, but it has a good grounding.
Take me through an average workday.
Lawrence: if I try to build a typical day, it started to drive a porsche and a 911 carrera GTS trolley transferred to our head office, this is a cool porsche temple in the backyard of the track. So, yes, my day always begins.
Obviously, meetings are an important part of my job. I can attend a meeting with our dealer’s sales plan or market representative. I can contact Germany to contact our products. Lunch was fun. I walked to the cafeteria and sat down with anyone and talked across departments. I like to move as much as possible.
Recently we have made a big start to many dealers. Many dealers are upgrading and expanding, so I came out and gave a speech.
What is the most boring thing about your current job?
Wade through spam. Advertising, people throwing my stuff… I’ve never read it. I might get 100 e-mails a day, maybe half of it worth it. But I realize that many people have worse, and I have a great team that covers me.
How does technology affect the future of your work?
Lawrence: more about how technology affects the auto industry. This is a big topic for discussion right now. In the past, in product planning, you would ask, “what type of internal combustion engine should be used for the next model? What should the palette look like? Should we include leather seats? These are big topics. Now we’re dealing with electrification, autonomy and connectivity, which is a completely different game.
In all of our operations, there are very big problems. Now we have a porsche passport subscription service. There are more electric cars here in porsche, no doubt about it. We embrace it. We are not afraid of self-government. We think this is a good opportunity, but porsche will always have a steering wheel. First of all, we provide a consistent driving experience, but we can provide autonomy at the same time. The car was not a huge albatross.
It was a challenging and scary moment, but the industry never had a more exciting time.
What car trends make your blood boil?
Texting and driving. This is the worst. It must stop. I was surprised to drive what you saw on the road today. That’s too bad. I put my phone in the jacket pocket of my back seat. Porsche’s interface is not distracting, especially in the new Panamera and Cayenne. We recognize that it is important to keep your eyes on the road. The German highway heritage is evident in all the cars we build.
What is a project you’ve been trying to solve, but never done?
As a management team, we have a thing called Operation Dealer Insight. It took us five days to instill the world in a dealer who worked with all of us. It’s cool, but it’s only five days, and for me, I often want to know what’s going on in the dealership. I hope to be able to connect more with our dealers in the challenges of daily life.