Fleet News

The last word: Tony Lewis

Tony Lewis, regional director for Northern Europe, Infiniti

Fleet News What has been your biggest achievement in your current role?
Tony Lewis We achieved the largest year-on-year growth of any of the European Infiniti markets (78%).

FN What has been the pivotal moment in your life?
TL This is a very serious one for me. On February 9, 2011, my eldest son Conrad was killed while fighting in Afghanistan with the Parachute Regiment.

He has since been awarded with a posthumous bravery award a “mention in despatches”.

Listening to his military and non-military friends, reading his citation and the eulogies to him, I have learned more about how to conduct my life from how my son conducted himself, than anything in my previous business life.

I am unbelievably proud of the man he became, the courage he had, the responsibility he bore, the fearlessness in battle, his desire to make a difference, his willingness to sacrifice what he held dear so that others can live without fear.

He was the 353rd soldier to die in this conflict and we set up a non-profit organisation called “353…” in his honour to support a range of military charities that helped us and his colleagues.

So far with friends and family we have raised more than £100,000.

It has been the most pivotal moment in my life and I am not afraid to talk about it as it brings some realism to what it is we all do in our daily lives and the difference in gravitas.

FN How would you describe your leadership style?

TL I went to Sandhurst after University and was taught that good leaders had a plan/vision, that they could communicate, articulate, deliver and were fully committed to.

I hope my current style conveys all that. If not, then it means to.

FN What has been your biggest mistake in business?

TL When I was a main board director at LDV, there was a proposed takeover by a major
European manufacturer – the due diligence process dragged on for 13 months and the deal was never completed.

The mistake was not pushing hard enough internally to get the deal done, when instinctively, practically and commercially, I and others knew it needed to be closed more quickly.

FN Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

TL My father – he had a crazy, all hours work ethic. He inflicted that on both myself and my brother and we seemed to have passed that on to our kids.

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

TL My daughter on holiday in Ibiza, “relaxing” after her A levels.

FN When was the last time you took public transport?

TL The train to and from Marylebone as well as a ‘Boris bike’ – I was going to our Infiniti centre in Piccadilly opposite the Ritz.

FN What is your favourite sitcom?

TL Blackadder. Brilliantly written and acted and I like its irreverent run though some key points
in history. It’s also my type of humour.

FN What is your favourite film?

TL It would have to be The Great Escape – still.

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

TL Realistically, probably my current house – paying off the mortgage on day one would be a great start to the rest of your life.

FN What would you do if you were made Prime Minister for the day?

TL Declare a new bank holiday to recognise the sacrifices of our armed forces over the decades.

FN What is your favourite book?

TL One Dog at a Time by Pen Farthing – it details how events can change one man’s life for good, put him on a completely different path and then how he can selflessly and unconditionally dedicate himself to the service of others.

FN What’s your least favourite food?

TL Sprouts – the devil’s food.

FN What is your fondest childhood memory?

TL Christmas with our extended family and specifically 1970 when I got a rare 10-speed Raleigh Chopper, a pair of George Best Stylo Matchmakers and a number seven replica United shirt – I felt very spoilt.

FN Your favourite dish at a restaurant?

TL Crevette – done any way you like – but simply grilled in a simple sauce. I love fish dishes.

FN Who was your childhood hero?

TL Muhammad Ali. I loved his integrity, moral courage, self-belief and his sporting genius.

FN What would you say is your guilty pleasure?

TL Motorcycles. I have had one since 16 and tend to collect them – quite unintentionally – but they are easy to store, insure, very fast and great value for money.

FN What is your dream car?

TL A 1964 Aston Martin DB5. A great combination of Italian design and British engineering.

FN What’s the best gift you’ve ever been given?

TL My sports moped at 16 – it’s the first taste of freedom you get as a young man and from then on you never look back, or seem to go home.

FN If you could work in another profession what would it be?

TL A ‘real’ profession as my dad would have called it would have been a pilot – fast jets preferably. My dream would to have been a musician – lead guitarist – rock god.

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