Personnel Articles

FIAT Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia has hired Andrei Zaitzev as director of sales operations and Tom Noble as director of marketing communications.

The appointments follow the departure of sales director Mark Palavestra and marketing director Rebecca Williams last month.

Both Mr Zaitzev and Mr Noble are well known in the Australian automotive industry and will play central roles in the turnaround plan developed by FCA Australia managing director Kevin Flynn, who took the reins last August.

“We have a huge opportunity here in Australia and my priority is to have the best talent in place to ensure we can successfully execute our turnaround plan,” Mr Flynn said in a statement.

“Marketing communications and sales operations will play a critical role in executing our robust business plan. I am confident with Tom and Andrei’s experience they will lead their respective teams and help us achieve our goals.”

As GoAuto has reported, these goals include a dramatic improvement in sales of FCA’s all-important Jeep brand, which recorded just over 5500 sales last year – a 24.7 per cent slide from the previous year and down from a height of more than 30,000 units in 2014.

Andrei Zaitzev

The company recently identified 50,000 as an achievable target, although no timeframe was placed on this.

Other brands under the FCA umbrella also struggled last year, most notably Alfa Romeo (891 sales, -30.3%), Fiat (928, -19.9%) and Fiat Professional (1125, -10.3%).

Mr Zaitzev brings some two decades’ experience to the position, moving from Zagame Automotive Group where he was leading the Ferrari and Maserati brands for the luxury automotive retailer.

FCA said in its statement that Mr Zaitzev has “in-depth knowledge and understands the retail and dealer environments, spending most of his career in wholesale and retail operations roles working at Inchcape, Ateco and Caterpillar”.

Mr Zaitzev had served for about seven years at Zagame Automotive, moving from Infiniti Cars Australia where he had spent only a few months, joining as national sales manager but then taking on the role of general manager almost immediately upon the unexpected resignation of Kevin Snell.

He had moved to Infiniti from independent distributor Ateco Automotive, where he was responsible for the company’s commercial vehicles portfolio and, perhaps most notably, was earlier in charge of the Alfa Romeo and Fiat brands before they switched across to the newly established Fiat-Chrysler factory operation in 2012.

Prior to Ateco, Mr Zaitzev worked for Subaru distributor and retailer Inchcape Australia, where he served as a regional manager and was also a dealership general manager for the Japanese brand.

In its announcement, FCA Australia also highlighted Mr Noble’s credentials, which include working with “some of the world’s most iconic brands including BMW, Mini, Audi, Nike, Adidas and the AFL here in Australia”.

Tom Noble

“Over his extensive career, Tom has worked in the automotive and creative industries across North America, Europe and Australia,” the company said.

“Tom led the sales, marketing and product planning functions for the BMW Group in Australia for almost 10 years and most recently was the business lead for Audi at Venables Bell and Partners in San Francisco.”

Mr Noble had been in the position at Venables Bell and Partners since mid-2019, moving to the role after spending a couple of years dividing his time between the US and Australia as a marketing and strategy consultant covering a range of industries.

This came after serving for two years as department head of Mini marketing in the United States, where he was responsible for the BMW-owned British brand’s marketing strategy and execution across the US market.

Prior to that, he had spent more than nine years at BMW Group Australia, joining in 2005 as general manager of marketing and later taking on the additional responsibility of sales.

His sports brand experience extends to brand marketing manager for the AFL, global marketing concepts manager for Adidas AG, and account director managing Nike advertising across Europe.

By Terry Martin