The multilingual globetrotter with big ambitions
Christian Coolsaet, managing director of Volvo and Renault Trucks, South Africa, is a die-hard petrolhead whose relationship with Volvo spans almost two decades. CLAIRE RENCKEN finds out what makes him tick.
Coolsaet has gained a wealth of experience within the Volvo Group, all over the globe. “I am very passionate about all things automotive. I joined Volvo in May 1997. I was previously the commercial trucks director for Volvo Trucks in Central Europe, and was also managing director at Volvo Romania and Volvo in Ukraine,” he says.
He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in marketing and export management to his name. “I speak several languages, including Dutch, French, English, German, Spanish and some Russian,” he adds.
Coolsaet stepped into his new role here in South Africa in September this year. “This country is rich with potential, quality people and resources. The market certainly promises a wonderful future. I am truly looking forward to forming part of the dynamic Volvo Trucks and Renault Trucks SA teams, and to serving and supporting our customers,” he enthuses.
When asked why he chose this industry, he is quick to answer: “I think that the industry chose me! I’ve always wanted to work with anything that had wheels. The closest opportunity in my native village was at a small bus manufacturer, and I was, therefore, very determined to work for them. Through this experience in the bus industry, I got in contact with Volvo. Shortly thereafter, Volvo offered me a position,” he explains.
Coolsaet and his team have great ambitions for 2015 and beyond. “My ultimate goal is to ensure that we have satisfied customers,” he says. “I am very pleased with the company’s performance. We have launched extremely good products over the past few years and we are looking at ensuring that our customers’ aftersales experience matches their expectations. I have a dedicated and committed team, who all have a ‘customer first’ approach.”
To keep himself grounded, Coolsaet makes a point of savouring the small pleasures in life on a daily basis. “I enjoy the beauty of flowers in bloom, the taste of fine – but inexpensive – wine, and the smiles on my kids’ faces. One of my personal goals is never to lose out on the appreciation of these sorts of things.”
In terms of what the future holds, he says: “Ten years from now, I hope I’ll still be inspiring all kinds of people, motivating them and celebrating the goals that have been achieved, both personally and professionally.
“Wherever in the world that might be,” he concludes with a smile.