Born: Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
Education: Business administration degree, Lambton College,
First job: Foreign exchange at Bank of Montreal
What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?
Be honest, open and fair. Live up to your commitments and expect others to do the same. One is a responsibility issue, the other is an accountability issue, and they go hand-in-hand.
Whom do you admire most in business?
Werner Baier, who is one of the principal owners of Webasto. He’s chairman of the supervisory board, and he turned management of the company over to a professional management team. His family has never taken money from the business. They allow the money to go back into the business. In working with him, I’m pretty amazed at what he does, how he has the faith in other people to do a good thing for his company. He allows them to do their job, and provides them with the resources to do it.
How do you define success in business?
I wouldn’t be a businessman if I didn’t start with earnings, growth, satisfied customers and a company that people are proud to be a part of. That’s a question on our employee survey, ‘Are you proud to work for Webasto?’ I take a lot of emotion on the word ‘pride,’ and if people say they are proud to work at Webasto, it says a lot about the company.
Olson on forming the proper corporate culture: A proper corporate culture is one that has a good balance of work throughout the lead managers. It’s one that fosters teamwork, one that fosters open communication, one that fosters rapid decision-making and rapid implementation of decisions. And it’s one that fosters trust.