Dane Fisher's recent appointment as head of retail and new mobility at Giltrap Group followed his work as CEO of luxury car rental firm SIXT New Zealand, which also sits under Giltrap and is focused on introducing vehicle subscriptions into NZ. He grew up on Auckland’s North Shore and attended Westlake Boys High School and Senior College before earning degrees in marketing and property from the University of Auckland. He lives in Auckland with his wife, Marissa, and children Beau and Matisse. 

I knew I wanted to work for Colin Giltrap since I was three years old. My dad was a regular Giltrap customer. So, in preschool, I knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to work – which is a bit crazy looking back.

Drivers were gods to me as I was growing up. The concept of driving a car as fast as you possibly can with no restrictions was mind-blowing. 

What was I like at school? I was annoying and disruptive and just wanted a piece of paper so I could go on to the next thing, which was cars. All my school papers were about cars and my teachers wrote on my report cards that I was more interested in cars than school.

I didn't do a traditional OE because I knew what I was going to do – my plan was to put overwhelming pressure on Richard Giltrap to give me a job. I had no plan B. When I was 21, he reluctantly gave me a job at Porsche NZ. It was like being a kid in a candy store.

The Porsche World Roadshow in 2000 changed my life. It was just after I’d started at Porsche NZ as a marketing coordinator and we got told this event was coming to NZ. We had no idea of the scale of it back then. 

It ended up being the biggest drive event ever in NZ. We took 500 people to racetracks around the country for them to experience Porsche. We went from selling maybe 70 cars a year to 225 in the next year alone.

When I was 29, Richard Giltrap gave me the role of general manager of Audi NZ, which was a big call for him and the group, because Audi is a pretty important brand to the business and – while I was obviously pretty passionate and focused – let's just say I was still a rough diamond. 

It took me some time to establish some equilibrium in my life – which happens as you mature and evolve and all of those things.

I'm a highly competitive and passionate person. In my twenties, it was more about going to the top of the hill and making sure you plant the flag there rather than sharing the flag or supporting a team to achieve planting the flag together. And that's just something that you learn in your twenties.

Values are very important to me, particularly around integrity and honesty and delivering on what you say you're going to do. It’s very much what I learned from my parents. And the Giltrap Group has similar values, which comes right from the top.

After Audi NZ, I took on a role at Lamborghini. The best part about working in Italy was that I was working for Lamborghini – it was pretty special.

We lived in Bologna, the home of Bolognese, so the food was a big part of the reason we loved our time there. My dog loved it, too, because everyone over there is in love with dogs, so you can take them anywhere – restaurants, to the cafe, to everything.  

The worst part of living in Italy was the bureaucracy and compliance. It was a baptism of fire, like most people wouldn't believe. 

It was just after the global financial crisis, and we hadn't realised before leaving for Italy how complex getting a visa for a non-European like me would be. There were 999 Italians and a few Germans at the company and then me – the one Kiwi. I was the third non-EU person in Europe that year to get a visa.

Italy was great, but it's a long way from NZ. It was tough for my wife, who had come with me – we actually got married while we were there – and we were looking for more stability. So I found an opportunity in Hong Kong with a company called INFINITI, which is Nissan's luxury arm. 

Hong Kong is one flight from NZ and it's got an amazing expat culture. I was the first managing director for the region when I started and then I became business development general manager. That was a major dream of mine as it ticked off being in the management field of a global car company, which was extraordinary.

People can confuse passion with impatience. I've got a very regimented structure, which people would think I don't have. Each week follows the same pattern. It's got the same flow in terms of staff meetings, operations meetings and all of those things, because that structure allows me to see the pieces of the jigsaw to work out how we put it all together.

I've been very lucky to have mentors who have taken me under their wing. I think it's important to have a mentor who's at the top of the tree; if you don't, you have your work cut out for you.

One of my previous bosses, Roland Krueger, who is now the CEO of Dyson, used to tell me if you want to be a salmon, you have to swim upstream and swim really well. So I've always been known as a disruptor, challenging the status quo and trying to see how we can do things better. That hasn't always gone well, and particularly in the global corporate world it's been difficult at times because people sometimes don't like change.

My son, Beau, is probably more obsessed with cars than I ever was. I mean, he’s started to watch Drive to Survive – and he’s only six! The problem is that the whole family on both sides are car obsessed, so there's no hope for him.

The roads are not the place to experience the potential of a car – that's what the racetrack is for, and that's why I'm so lucky. You can get to racetracks anywhere in NZ pretty easily. 

The wonderful thing about this new job is I’m looking after 18 brands, and with five or six of them we have a direct-to-manufacturer relationship. So I'll get to travel a lot to great parts of the world to talk about some pretty cool cars.

My younger brother Brock passed away a couple of years ago. We were very close and his passing was challenging. He was obsessed with cars, like me, and throughout our time together, we were always sharing what cars we liked – he was always looking at a used Porsche – and talking about what would be in our dream garages. 

So, if I had all the money in the world, what cars would I have in mine? Two come immediately to mind. First, a 1987 Ferrari F40, which redefined what a supercar was. And second, in terms of new cars – to make sure I'm protecting the business that supports me – I’d have the 911 GT3 RS. It's an unbelievable manifestation of a car that was created 60 years ago.

I haven't achieved my dream garage yet, but I will one day. I owe it to Brock.

As told to Ella Somers. 
This interview has been edited for clarity.