Automotive

Published on November 2nd, 2016 | by Subhash Nair

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Mercedes-Benz Services Malaysia Has a New MD

Mercedes-Benz Services Malaysia Sdn Bhd (MBSM) has appointed automotive financing industry veteran, Mike Ponnaz, as its new Managing Director effective 1 November 2016.

Ponnaz has a total of 23 years experience in the automotive industry, 10 of which have been specifically in automotive financing, and was previously the Director of Sales and Marketing of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Thailand.  Before expanding his career in automotive financing, Ponnaz initially pursued his education in hotel management. He believes his brief but valuable experience in the hotel business has helped heighten his focus on the customer and further inspired him to apply this skill in a different sector.

Ponnaz has remained close to the Mercedes-Benz brand since the start of his career in the automotive sector in 1993. The journey of his illustrious career began when he joined Thonburi Automotive Assembly Plant Co. Ltd, an importer and assembler of Mercedes-Benz vehicle components, in Thailand. In his first position, he was a project manager for the market introduction of AMG parts and also managed the projected investment for the brand’s motorsports activities in the Southeast Asia region.

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A key highlight in Ponnaz’s career was his role in managing a major restructuring exercise in 1998 for the then general distributor of Mercedes-Benz. He was responsible for negotiating contractual matters with all stakeholders involved in the restructure which included creditors, financial advisors and legal councils. Ponnaz’s role as mediator helped the company restructure its operations quickly, thus ensuring its business model remained viable in the years to come.

As the principal of the newly established retail business, Ponnaz led the company to achieve a 30 per cent market share for the sale of Mercedes-Benz cars and a 45 per cent market share of the after-sales business in Thailand. This was the result of a comprehensive sales network encompassing five flagship stores built in just two years which helped boost the overall sales for Mercedes-Benz cars in Thailand.

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Ponnaz’s positive contributions impressed the Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Thailand, who proceeded to offer him an opportunity to lead the company’s sales and marketing division. Ponnaz viewed the opportunity as an extremely attractive avenue to build his knowledge and experience along the entire automotive value chain.

Describing his leadership style, Ponnaz views himself as a calm and orderly leader who makes his expectations clear. He considers himself an ambitious team player and firmly believes that team play is less a matter of group work and more of working with a sense of mutual trust.

Ponnaz experienced two different cultures in his youth being born in Bangkok to a Thai mother and a Swiss father. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration, a joint programme with Kellogg University and Wharton.


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