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Q&A with Russell McKay - General Manager - Portfolio: Fleet, Finance and Damage


Russell McKay

Russell McKay - General Manager - Portfolio: Fleet, Finance and Damage

  • Q1: In what year did you join First Car Rental and what was your position?

    A: I joined the CMH group when they ventured into Car Rental in 1999. We were a "hodge podge" of small rental companies that CMH absorbed to start their rental division. I was Financial Manager with a varied portfolio in those days!

  • Q2: What do you like most about First Car Rental?

    A: As a division we have a strong track record of growth and increasing profitability. There are new business challenges being presented every day as we continue this trend, and First Car Rental allows you the freedom to tackle those challenges in your own unique way.

  • Q3: When are you most satisfied in your job?

    A: When I get my paycheck!

  • Q4: As Executive Head of your department how do you go about establishing your credibility quickly with a team?

    A: Each team is as different as each individual within the team, and as different as the hundreds of tasks that are performed everyday in our company. True credibility is really only achieved if you are as good a listener as you are a talker - listen to your team and respond to what they are saying and you will quickly gain credibility.

  • Q5: How would you describe your work style?

    A: Fairly relaxed - some things you can control, so I control those. Those things that you cannot, should not add to your stress levels.

  • Q6: What would be your ideal working environment?

    A: In all honesty, I love to be around the cars we drive daily in our fleets. I am not a car nut who rebuilds or races cars or anything but I enjoy the depot environment - even if it is just seeing the action from an office window.

  • Q7: What do you look for in terms of culture - structured or entrepreneurial?

    A: I think my response to point two above answers this - Entrepreneurial.

  • Q8: What techniques and tools do you use to keep yourself organised?

    A: I am a bit old-fashioned when it comes to this aspect and a good A5 notebook with lots of notes gets me through.

  • Q9: If you had to choose one, would you consider yourself a big-picture person or a detail-oriented person?

    A: Big picture

  • Q10: Who has impacted you most in your career and how?

    A: In the early nineties I spent a few years in the USA. When we were in Las Vegas one summer a friend's dad said to a group of us one night when we heading off to strike it rich in the Casinos: "Just remember they didn't build all these buildings on winners". That has stuck with me, as at that time it put a whole new perspective on what we were about to do. Suddenly the Casino trip did not seem all that exciting! That statement has stuck with me and I try to look at a situation from a different perspective than just my own, to make the best decision.

  • Q11: What kind of personality do you work best with and why?

    A: I work well with most personalities - we live in a varied world and country and you have to be flexible.

  • Q12: What is your proudest achievement within work?

    A: I cannot recall one incident that stands out above all others, but seeing where we are today and what we have achieved as First Car Rental over the last few years in a very competitive industry is quietly satisfying.

  • Q13: What are your strengths?

    A: I believe I am easy to work with and people generally respond well to my way of working, thereby achieving the goals of the company.

  • Q14: What are your weaknesses?

    A: I sometimes trust people too much, and believe everyone's set of values is the same - sometimes this can be a problem.

  • Q15: What was the most difficult period in your life, and how did you deal with it?

    A: We are all human and have to deal with ups and downs. My dad's sudden passing in 2005 was tough, and then more recently my wife dealing with breast cancer for the past two years has been difficult. At the end of the day you have to pick yourself up and move forward - you cannot change the past, but you can make decisions now that are going to affect your future, so make the tough decisions yourself.

  • Q16: What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?

    A: I really get frustrated when people over analyse before making simple decisions. In both business and my personal life! I tend to move onto other things and then come back when a consensus decision has been made if it does not affect me, otherwise I just decide myself and move on.

  • Q17: List five words that describe your character.

    A: Patient, easy-going, caring, focused, decisive.

  • Q18: What is your greatest fear?

    A: Being a poor husband and a bad father to my three kids

  • Q19: What is your greatest achievement outside of work?

    A: Raising three 'well-rounded' kids with the help of my lovely wife.

  • Q20: Tell me the difference between good and exceptional?

    A: Everyone can be good, but exceptional is doing good differently.

  • Q21: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?

    A: Playing golf in a fourball with my dad and two boys - anywhere they would have us

  • Q22: What's the last book you read?

    A: I am not much of a reader - TV is far easier - but I do enjoy autobiographies - Francious Pienaar's 'Rainbow Warrior', Lance Armstrong's 'Its not about the bike' and Bernie Ecclestone's 'No Angel', have all been quite interesting reads over the years.

  • Q23: What magazines do you subscribe to?

    A: We must have one for House & Garden - there are stacks of those all over our lounge.

  • Q24: What's the best movie you've seen in the last year?

    A: The Second Shrek movie - not because of the movie, but to see how a seven-year old can become so totally captivated by animations on an electronic box is quite entertaining.

  • Q25: What would you do if you won the lottery?

    A: Not sure - that's decisive isn't it! But I will tell you when I win it.

  • Q26: What do you like to do for fun?

    A: Normal stuff - visiting family and friends, golfing, a little bit of gardening, driving different cars and so on.

  • Q27: What do you do in your spare time?

    A: With all the normal stuff there is no spare time!


To find out more about First Car Rental's Executive Management team, click here.

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