Tell us about your current role – what do you do?
I’m head of Marketing, Press and Public Relations for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, which covers vans, pick-ups and campers.
My role encompasses all internal and external communications. It also covers product affairs, defining which vehicles we bring to market, what they cost and where they sit in the market, and defining and developing our e-commerce strategy for online sales and so on. I also look after the website and digital tools. I have a team of about 20 people.
How long have you been in the role?
Previously I was head of PR for the brand from 2015 and 2020 and then in September of last year the PR and marketing teams were merged and my responsibilities expanded. I joined VW in 1999 as a press officer and before that I was in publishing.
What’s special about your brand?
I’ve always had a passion for the motor industry and Volkswagen. My parents had a lot of VWs when I was growing up and when I went into PR, I wanted to represent a product I believed in.
I was fortunate to get a job with a brand whose products I think are fantastic. One of the things about Commercial Vehicles is the diversity – we do everything from dealing with big corporate customers who buy thousands, to motorhome enthusiasts who are spending their retirement money on a Grand California because they want to go off and have adventures. The breadth of customers makes it really interesting.
Tell us about VW’s iconic status in the market
We have fantastic heritage, and there’s so much love for the brands. Go to Cornwall or Devon and look in the car parks, and every other vehicle is a VW camper conversion. The passion people have for them, and the hobbies they allow them to do, is wonderful. There’s an intrinsic link between the vehicles and loving what you do, whether that’s travelling or surfing, say. It opens the door to what people love doing in their lives.
What news from your company this year?
We’ve never had so many visits to our website. People were very interested in the Grand California last year and this year, we’ve just launched the new Caddy. We’re going to be launching a California version of the Caddy.
We will then have a campervan in each segment – the small caddy, the California, which is based on the Transporter, and the Grand California.
We’ve also launched a motorhome Recognised Converters scheme, which sets out criteria for converters to meet to get our ‘approved’ badge. It’s another way that we are branching out and responding to the market.
What advice would you have for people who are thinking about buying a camper?
Do your research and think about what kind of trips you want to do, where you want to go and what facilities you want in the ‘van.
However, don’t overthink it – having met lots of owners, I’ve never come across anyone who has regretted buying a campervan. Don’t wait for retirement, crack on now. And finally, pack light – something I’ve never mastered!
What memories do you have of camping as a child?
We were keen campers as children and used to go off in our big soggy tent. I have lots of happy memories of being in fields in Dorset – we had an old yellow Hillman Hunter Estate, which just about made the journey down there. Plenty of time spent wearing wellies, playing cards and eating Spam!
And what’s the best trip you’ve ever been on?
One of the best was arranged by our colleagues in Germany, who took a trip to California in a California, which is quite unusual because they don’t sell the model there. It was striking how many people were interested in it. They really wanted to see it and drive it.
Where would you like to go next?
Anywhere at the moment! We’ve got two weeks booked in Cornwall, but I’d also love to take a campervan around France.
What’s on your driving playlist?
I’ll be honest! Take That are a long-held love of mine. I’d also have some Guns N’ Roses from the early 1990s. And Mr Brightside from The Killers.
Favourite meal on tour?
We always try to find a good local pub for meals out, or perhaps fish and chips.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us!
I don’t have too many secrets – but people are surprised to hear that my first job in publishing was as a lexicographer writing dictionaries.
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We have fantastic heritage, and there's so much love for the brands. Go to Cornwall or Devon and look in the car parks, and every other vehicle is a VW camper conversion