Neil Cunningham, general manager, Hertz
What has been your biggest achievement in your current role?
Being asked by industry leaders to become the current chairman of the BVRLA. It’s a real honour and I follow in the footsteps of some great rental and leasing leaders.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
When I was in my mid-20s I worked for a colourful entrepreneur who taught me that anything is possible if you put your mind, and your team’s minds, to it. That advice has never left me. I’ve had the privilege to work with some great leaders and they’ve all had an impact.
What’s your dream holiday?
I want to be the person who takes my children to several of the world’s greatest natural environments – notably the Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon.
What was the last text message you received?
Hertz on Demand – our car club sends text messages just prior to picking up a vehicle.
What is your favourite sitcom?
Reggie Perrin (both old and new versions) – a management style I’ve never dared to copy! It’s so ‘un-PC’ that it makes you realise how mad the world has become trying to be politically correct all the time.
What is your favourite film?
Gorky Park (1983) – full of twists, turns and moody music.
What three things would you take to a desert island?
Apart from the obvious (a boat), my family, a pen and some paper – time for some memories.
When was the last time you took public transport?
A bus home from T5 at Heathrow – probably a form of heresy for a car rental boss to consider public transport and it’s a long story but it was very cheap compared to a taxi even though it took 40 minutes longer.
What would you do if you were made Prime Minister for the day?
I would abolish student fees at university – it will get totally out of control over the coming years.
If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
I’d buy a luxurious ski chalet in the Austrian Alps, throw a big winter party and invite lots of friends around to endless days of skiing.
Your biggest mistake in business?
I bought (with my fleet director at the time, no names mentioned) five of the new S-type Jaguars at full retail price over a long lunch, only to regret it big-time 12 months later when we went to sell them. Lesson – never close deals over lunch!
What is your favourite childhood memory?
Holidays in Somerset. I was born there and moved away fairly soon afterwards – but we returned for harvest time holidays.
Your favourite restaurant dish?
I’m a foodie so it’s hard to say since it depends totally on the season. In the autumn it’s got to be tarte tatin and cinnamon ice cream – I’m also a dab hand at making it myself.
Your leadership style?
I’ve always thought I am close to my people – they are incredibly important for me. They are where I get most of my information from, so for them to be open with me, I am open and honest with them.
I’m straight- talking without being offensive.
When did you last feel guilty about the environment and why?
I’ve been driving the Nissan Leaf for five months so I’m feeling somewhat smug about the environment from a car perspective. I was equally smug getting free congestion charge and free meter parking in Westminster!
Who was your childhood hero?
My father – isn’t that true for all of us? He taught me to treat all people with the same respect. He was a structural engineer and always seemed to have the respect of every welder and worker on the sites.
Which superhero from comics do you identify with?
Don’t do superheroes – we have lots of real-life ones at Hertz.
Your dream car?
Bentley – very traditional, English heritage, perhaps for when I retire.
Pivotal moment in your life?
Working and living in Holland back in 1993 for another rental company – if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have met my wife.