Meet the MD: Paul Brown of Cars on Demand

As a business leader, you never stop learning. Paul Brown of Wakefield-based Cars on Demand tells BQ what makes a great leader and what his role at the helm of the firm involves.

What is it you do?

As managing director of Wakefield-based flexible vehicle leasing company Cars on Demand, my role involves understanding the situations that face the business and identifying the opportunities (or risks) that those situations present.

I also research and develop plans that define solutions to make the most of commercial opportunities and ensure that they are executed – as well as measuring their effectiveness!

In addition, I listen, learn, understand, empathise and advise.


What is it the company does?

Cars on Demand lease cars and light commercial vehicles, on short term, flexible contracts for periods of one to twelve months, servicing both business and private clients.

Our offering is unique in that we offer flexible leasing solutions without long-term contracts. In fact, our typical leasing period period is just 28 days, compared to the typical industry average of 36 months on 75% of UK leases.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

I think most importantly you need to be able to listen to and engage with your people, and take them on the journey that you believe in. I put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that the team I employ and work with are fully involved with everything we do, are well trained, but are also able to add their own personalities to the business.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Understanding that some people are better at certain things than I am, and letting them get on with the job they are tasked with doing.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I have 5 children and a grandchild! Bringing up a large family is much more stressful than anything my job could entail, so it helps keep things in perspective!


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A pilot.


Any pet hates in the workplace?

No, we have a great workplace and team of people.


Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

We have a fantastic product offer and service, which has historically been a niche in our market. Our challenge is to grow the awareness of what we do in order to expand both the market we operate in and our own market share.

I would like us to be seen as the market leader in our segment, whilst continuing to have fun doing it!


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Listen and consider before speaking or taking action.


Where did you start your career?

My first job was in the seafood industry, working for a Hull based Fish merchants and frozen food business. The first role I had in the motor industry was with Michelin Tyres on a management trainee program.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.

I first started work in 1983 at a large Hull based fish Merchants, with roles in the factory, cold store and eventually becoming a location manager.

In 1988 I joined Michelin Tyres on a management training program, which led to me becoming a Deputy operations manager. Having noticed the sales team had nicer cars, better pay and more fun, I left and joined Kwik-Fit Fleet in their Sales team – I will be eternally grateful to the recently departed Ron Bambra, the then MD, who gave me confidence & opportunity to get into sales despite my lack of experience!

I moved from Kwik-Fit to a division of Shell (Superdrive), before having roles at Bristol Honda and Central Motor Auctions.

In 1995 I joined what was then Eurodollar Rent a Car as an account manager. Eurodollar eventually became National & Alamo car Rental and is now part of the Europcar Group.

After several roles in the sales team, I became UK Sales Director, before leaving in 2003 to start my own business, which eventually grew to become Cars on Demand!