CFO Profile: Karl Durocher of Mercedes-Benz Hungary
April 22, 2015
Karl Durocher is CFO of the Mercedes-Benz Hungary. This company is a subsidiary of Daimler, responsible for the wholesale and import of Daimler vehicles and aftersales parts. Mercedes-Benz Hungary employs 70 people in total, with 7 persons working in the Finance department. Karl Durocher has been its CFO since 2014.
Has the CFO role changed in the time you've been in the position?
“I’ve been a CFO at Daimler subsidiaries for over 5 years. My role has been more or less the same. But the challenges are different of course. I started during the crisis, the economic climate is getting better. That’s something which is changing. But there are also new developments in the car market, like Tesla or Uber. That means our company has to look for new opportunities, like developping new financial services.”
What do you think is the most challenging in being a CFO?
“With new business ideas you have to balance between risks and safety. New sales ideas have risks like new tax regimes or expanding inventory. Of course you can make an analysis, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work. In cases like that it’s difficult to make the right decision. Sometime you have to say no, sometime you have to go for it. It helps to have a little bit of experience. Not only to feel if something is going to work or not. But also by communicating that an idea cannot go through.”
Since becoming CFO, what achievements are you most proud of to date?
“One of the companies I previous worked for had a liquidity gap of over 34 million euros when I started to work there. The company was close to bankruptcy. It took us up to three years to turn it around. One of the biggest problems was the customer payment morale. So we took drastic measures at the collection side.”
What are the priorities for your company next year?
“We are planning to grow from a low level, 20 percent of turnover. We only do business in Hungary, because we are part of a global network of Daimler.
We think we can grow to take better advantage of our existing customers by improving our communication. We are starting with a project for a new customer relationship management system in 4 to 6 months. This will help us by doing smarter marketing.
What do you think of the EU plans to buy up government bonds?
“I don’t think this is a good idea. I believe more in local measures to change the market structurally. This is just postponing the problem.”
This CFO Profile interview has been done because of the quarterly CFO Survey.