Fleet News

The last word: Ashley Sowerby

Ashley Sowerby, managing director, Chevin Fleet Solutions


What has been your biggest achievement in your current role?

Growing the business from a one-man start-up 21 years ago to a truly global operation. Also being invited to present at the UN in New York. Standing outside the building with the flags of the world was a real ‘pinch me’ moment.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

John Kelly, my ex-boss, for supporting my buy-out decision and calming my 21-year-old nerves.

What is your dream holiday?

An active beach holiday somewhere hot and exotic. I tried waterskiing for the first time last year and could definitely do with more practice.

Who was the last person you received a text message from?

My kids asking for a lift home from school because it was raining. Naturally I said no – it’s character building, after all.

What is the first thing you would do if you were made Prime Minister?

Change the ‘spend it or lose it’ budget system for councils. It encourages unnecessary spending, is rife with red tape and can impact on service provision.

You are on a desert island – what three things do you take with you?

Toolbox, fixings and canvas. If I’m going to be stuck there I’m going to fix it up nicely.

If you won the Lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?

A helicopter. It’s the ultimate boy’s toy and I’ve always fancied one. It probably wouldn’t do my green credentials any good and I’d have to squeeze a helipad onto the office roof, but it’d be worth it.

What is your best childhood memory?

Going to see family friends who had moved to Cornwall, spending the summer exploring with their kids.

What is the one object you couldn’t live without?

Gadget-wise it would be my iPhone. It has everything I need and I dread to think how I’d function without it.

When was the last time you took public transport?

I went on a Eurostar day trip to Brussels to visit our office over there just before Christmas.

When did you last feel guilty about the environment and why?

My role involves an awful lot of air travel and the environmental impact is unsettling. Skype and video conferencing take some of the pressure off, but ultimately people buy from people so air travel is a necessary evil in running a successful global company.

What was your biggest mistake in business, and what did you learn?

Putting off difficult decisions and burying your head in the sand. If something or someone isn’t working out then it’s better to act sooner rather than later.

What has been the most pivotal moment in your life?

The birth of my first child, Jack. People warn you that your life will never be the same again but it’s not something you can possibly appreciate until the moment arrives. Being a father makes you approach life very differently.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

All things are possible, focus on what you want from life and enjoy the journey.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Someone once described Chevin as a passive dictatorship and there’s probably an element of truth in that. I guess I’m firm but fair – I have opinions on the way things should be done, but don’t micromanage or stifle creativity.

Which comic superhero would you like to be?

Without a doubt, Batman. Great gadgets and a great car. I'm not sure I’d pull off the costume though.

What is your dream car?

Aside from the Batmobile, it’d have to be the Toyota Tundra Pick-up: a massive US 4x4 that you could throw everything into and head off for a week of camping, skiing and dirt biking. Not overly sensible for day-to-day life in Derbyshire, but dreams aren’t meant to be sensible are they?

What is your favourite restaurant meal?

Moussaka and saganaki. I have always loved fresh Greek food – ideally consumed in a taverna by
the sea.

What is your favourite sitcom?

Currently it’s The Office – USA. It’s well observed and full of likeable characters.

What is your favourite film?

Blues Brothers, for the soundtrack and that car chase.

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