INSIDE TRACK: Not one to let the grass grow under his feet, the new head of Volvo CE operations in Korea is taking on a new challenge
by Emilee Jennings
Frederic Ruesche has worked for the Volvo Group, in effect, for his entire career. His loyalty has not gone unrewarded with numerous opportunities presenting themselves over the years. With more than 10 years of management experience under his belt, the employment journey for this French native started with Renault Trucks in 1994, which was bought by Volvo in 2001. For more than 20 years, Ruesche was based in various European cities, such as Lyons, Copenhagen and Paris, before moving to the Asian market in a pioneering role in 2002 to open the first Renault Trucks Sales office in China.
Currently President of Korea Sales and Service Operations at Volvo CE, Ruesche, 43, maintains that his proudest achievement to date is the legacy he left in Malaysia. “My time in Kuala Lumpur triggered a lot of things in my career. I was given the opportunity to run a Volvo CE own dealership which, at the time, comprised a small team operating in a very challenging market, so we had a lot to build up.”
In just four years, the team grew from seven to 50 and the market share from 2% to 8%. Although Ruesche left Malaysia three years ago, the company is still growing. “I hope in four or five years I will have achieved a similar outcome in Korea – something that will continue to grow sustainably, long after I’ve left.”
His management style, says Ruesche, has matured over the years. “I hope it’s like wine – improving with age,” he laughs. “I’ve been with the Volvo Group for 20 years, so subconsciously I’ve been molded by Volvo’s values, which focus on respect for the individual, passion and energy. I’m trying my best to communicate these strong values through my management style here in Korea.”
Originally from a small fishing village in Brittany, France, Ruesche is unashamedly proud of his heritage which follows him around the world. “No matter where I go and how long I am away, I always end up going back there – it’s very important for me to have these strong roots. They have helped build and strengthen me over the years.”
Having spent two years in China, four years in Malaysia, a total of five in Singapore and now settling in Korea, Ruesche feels it is important to maintain his Breton origins, along
with his French wife, for the sake of their three children aged 10, eight and six years old. “They’ve been in Asia all their lives, so they only know France as a holiday destination.”
Both parents make an effort to keep their family background alive: “The children attend a French school in Seoul. And supporting French sports, such as the football and rugby teams and French tennis players is another important part of our lives.”
Being hard-working, driven and determined does not prevent Ruesche from having a little fun. “I’m very work-life balance conscious,” he says. “In my spare time I run, bike, swim and compete in triathlons.” Since moving to Korea, this former rugby player has started coaching children’s rugby. “It’s great fun and I get to spend time with my kids and their friends, instilling values and a fighting spirit.
A 1994 graduate of the ESC Lille Business School in the north of France, Ruesche majored in entrepreneurship because he wanted to surround himself with ambitious people. “I wanted to meet self-made men, people who had run their own businesses, people who had succeeded, and people who had failed and then succeeded again. It was interesting to see how they did things and what they learned from their failures.”
Ruesche says his career path was driven by the opportunities given to him by Volvo. “I don’t think there are many other companies in the world where you are given such a broad choice of experiences, exposure to different countries and cultures, destinations and types of jobs. If you want to be exposed to the world and are willing to take a few risks then Volvo is a great place to work.”
Ruesche is the first to admit that not every risk he has taken has been a success, but taken together they have helped build a career of which he is justifiably proud and willing to talk about. “I am thankful to my former managers who gave me opportunities by putting a young guy such as myself in a position where he could fail – and sometimes I did fail. But at the end of the day, the failures and the exposure help you grow faster, which is how I got where I am today.”