The lure of the major automotive companies is obvious, but what tempts some people to leave, can they apply what they learned to their new role, and do they live to regret it? We spoke to some ex-engineers and former PR gurus to find out.
David Pook Then: Dynamics specialist at Daewoo and JLR Now: Self-employed dynamics specialist
“At Daewoo, I was very lucky to work with an experienced dynamicist who had come from General Motors. This grounding and the wider application of problem-solving and methodology is something that I still use today.
“In 19 years at Jaguar Land Rover, I maintained this career direction, but as I aged, the interest in the business and people side grew. There was a big itch I needed to scratch and, to be honest, I was worried about what JLR’s future looked like.
“So I went from heading the vehicle dynamics team at SVO, took a voluntary redundancy package and set up on my own. I planned multiple avenues, from consultant engineering to Alpine A110 tuning and private set-up work. Things never go completely as intended, so I now concentrate on my Life110 business and tuning of the A110, and I even have a social media business developing on the side. You can’t be too rigid with plans.
“I would say that I was utterly unprepared for the realities of your own business and how to make money. I’ve had some good mentors and friends with experience help me through it, and I’ve learned fast. But, retrospectively, I would also say that JLR taught me a depth in engineering that you wouldn’t get in many places. The technical expertise and knowledge I have is something that I’m extremely grateful for.
“Of course, all this comes with the anxieties of where your income will come from and when. I can see now how entrepreneurs can be driven by fear: if I stop working, the money will dry up. But this is tempered with ownership; I can do what I want, how I want, and the success is down to me.
“Would I go back to the corporate world? The answer is yes, but not at the moment, and only for the right environment, which is categorically not what I left. I’m a big believer in how [Mercedes-AMG F1 team boss] Toto Wolff operates and leads, and that’s the total opposite of what you find in JLR engineering. Now I’m focusing on growing my own business in the same philosophy.
“I used to think that success was measured by what was written about the dynamics of a car I was involved with. But actually, if you have a great car that no one buys, what’s the point? I’ve built Life110 from nothing in just a year and sell around the world with customers across Europe, Japan, Australia and more.”
Find out more at life110.co.uk
Gareth Dean Then: PR and marketing with Honda, Nissan and JLR Now: Owner, Non Plastic Beach