Rolls-Royce Motor Cars - Tom Purves

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Tom Purves is the Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, a position he has held since July 2008. He has spent his whole working life in the automotive industry, beginning with Rolls-Royce as an apprentice engineer at Crewe, United Kingdom, in 1967. His role with the company evolved to include several management positions in various fields including sales in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Prior to his appointment as CEO of Rolls-Royce, Mr. Purves was Chairman and CEO of BMW (US) Holding Corp., and President of BMW of North America, LLC. He is married with two children and in his free time enjoys golf, music and motorcycling.

Mr. Purves led the company to achieve groundbreaking success, with market share and sales of BMW Group vehicles more than doubling during his tenure. The company became the second largest BMW export market after the USA. In addition, he was responsible for the successful launch of the MINI in North America.

ISO Focus+: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is a global brand which, for many people, is associated with ideas of luxury, exclusivity and customization. At the same time, motor car manufacturing is an industry depending on truly global supply chains and characterized by a high degree of standardization to ensure compatibility, safety and interoperability. Have you any idea of the number of technical standards that go into the manufacture of Rolls-Royce cars ? How does Rolls-Royce navigate between these poles of exclusivity and standardization?

Tom Purves: Rolls-Royce Motor Cars produces motor cars that are built to order for every customer, from the initial painting, through to wood and leather choices. We also have a department which works exclusively on one-off bespoke items to meet and exceed our customer expectations.

Every part used on the car is constructed to specific ISO requirements, ranging from screws used to fit interior fittings, to the aluminium spaceframe of the Phantom model series. We are in constant communication with our supply chain management team to ensure they meet our requirements and that of ISO 9001:2008.

ISO Focus+: Does Rolls-Royce send experts to participate in the development of standards for the automotive sector? If so, can you give details ? If not, doesn't it mean that you're not at the table when standards which could influence your business are being developed?

Tom Purves: As part of the wider BMW Group, Rolls-Royce is represented in the development of standards. BMW Group influences the standards development process to ensure the best possible improvements for the Group as a whole.

BMW Group is a member of the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) which was responsible for the development of ISO/TS 16949:2009, Quality management systems – Particular requirements for the application of ISO 9001:2008 for automotive production and relevant service part organizations, the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) and the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).

ISO Focus+ : Does Rolls-Royce make use of management system standards such as ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004? What benefits do they bring you? Are your management systems certified – if so, what added value do you see in third-party certification?

Tom Purves: Rolls-Royce is part of a matrix certification within BMW Group for both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Certification helps with customer/supplier development as our requirements are clearly defined. This, in turn, ensures that product and problem management are efficiently developed.

Third-party certification provides us with an independent validation of our systems as well as providing consultation on best practice amongst our peers. It also demonstrates to our customers our continuing track record of quality excellence.

ISO Focus+ : Have you considered the implementation of other management system standards, such as ISO/IEC 27001:2005 for information security?

Tom Purves: Rolls-Royce builds cars using ISO 9001 and references ISO/TS 16949 for best practice.

BMW Group R&D processes are certified to ISO/IEC 27001, but this is currently not required for manufacturing plants. As a globally operating organization, Rolls-Royce and BMW Group manage numerous risks. Consequently, we have implemented a solid centrally co-ordinated risk management system, which incorporates new standards, principles and practices in order to further develop our risk management.

ISO Focus+ : It has been said that ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 have brought standards to the attention of top management. How true is this in the case of Rolls-Royce ? More generally, in today’s global markets, do you perceive of International Standards as having strategic importance for you ? What developments would add value for you?

Tom Purves: International Standards provide the automotive industry with an opportunity to market brands and work with global supply networks to ensure they meet requirements. At Rolls-Royce, we have a philosophy of continuous improvement and value added processes. Further development by ISO to the associated standards assists with these principles.

ISO Focus+ : When you're a global brand like Rolls-Royce, you no doubt need to pay close attention to your "corporate citizenship". What's your perspective on the contribution of International Standards toward helping the international community to tackle global challenges such as climate change, sustainable development and social responsibility?

Tom Purves: International Standards bring together like-minded people to tackle issues of high importance to our community. These standards help companies translate ethical principles into effective actions. Rolls-Royce strives to produce cars as sustainably as possible, to do this we work closely with the BMW Group’s Efficient Dynamics project.

As well as our purpose built site, designed to minimize impact upon the environment, we also ensure that our product is class leader for its segment. For example, aluminium for the Phantom spaceframe is produced using hydroelectric power and its engine produces the lowest amount of carbon dioxide in its class.

All our cars are produced in a way which ensures that they are fully (85 %) recyclable, should they ever reach the end of their viability. Around 65 % of all Royce-Royce motor cars ever built are still road-worthy.

ISO Focus+ : In a number of recent publications (July-August 2009 issue of ISO Focus, 2008 ISO Annual Report, Today's state-of-the-art global solutions for CEOs), ISO has sought to show how International Standards can help to renew business confidence in the context of the worldwide financial turmoil. Have they opened your eyes to new possibilities of using ISO standards? As a top CEO, do they communicate to you?

Tom Purves: The ISO Focus magazine provides the automotive industry with a useful tool for highlighting future advantages and delivering enhanced efficiencies. It includes many examples of global economic, social and environmental benefits of implementing ISO standards presenting a thought-provoking document that creates genuine interest in ISO products.

Tom Purves
Tom Purves
Tom Purves
Chief Executive Officer
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
United Kingdom