Volvo's European sales boss joined the car business after 30 years in the computer industry. He knows how to manage change, because he was in charge at IBM Sweden when a revolution swept through the computer industry.
Despite being a relative newcomer to this industry, Huber is a passionate car man. He talked to Automotive News Europe reporter Bradford Wernle.Current title: President, Volvo Car Market Area Europe; chairman, Volvo Car International
Lives in: Brussels
Other countries lived in: Austria (born in Graz), Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, USA, UK, Germany, France
Languages: Fluent in English, German, Swedish. Conversant in French, Italian. Listens to Flemish radio stations in Brussels
Family: Married (happily), four children, three boys and a girl, aged 18-33
First job in the car business: President of Volvo Deutschland GmbH, 1996-98
What was your first car? A 1951 Ford. I think it was called a Taunus. It looked like a small version of a 1939 Ford V-8 two-door in the USA. It was rather ugly with a split window. I bought it in 1962 for just Skr 300 (about A35 at current exchange rates).
What cars are parked in your garage now? My company car is a Volvo S80. My wife Margareta drives a V70 . We also own a 1966 Volvo P1800 and a 1957 MGA. We go to one rally each year with each of the cars. I love to go into the garage. There I can talk to my cars.
What cars have you most admired? For more than 10 years I owned a dream car, a 1962 Jaguar E-type. I could get lyrical about its exhaust system. I could feel vibrations in the six-cylinder engine. I could just stand looking at the wire wheels, the long hood. When the car was standing there it looked like a jaguar wildcat ready to jump. I later switched to a 1972 RS Porsche.
What is your passion? My wife and I do like the countryside. We have a summer house in Sweden in the archipelagos 100km north of Stockholm, at Oregrund. I have a map in my office, and I'm looking at the lagoon and missing it.
What is your greatest achievement? As managing director of IBM Sweden I was part of the drastic change IBM went through in order to survive. It was a revolution in the computer business. We had to move from hardware manufacturing into the services business.
What was your worst-ever crisis in business? In 1994, when I was faced with the need to close a manufacturing plant in Sweden and reduce staff by 50 percent. I realized at that point I was very much alone... this feeling of loneliness that everyone is waiting on you, that it is you who has the responsibility to make that decision. How do I call in 3,400 employees and tell them we have to go to 1,700?
How do you describe yourself to others? Goal oriented. Driven, but team oriented.
What are you very good at? Coaching other people.
How do you relax? I take our dog - a border collie - to the forest of Waterloo and I walk.
What company do you most admire outside the auto business? General Electric. They have been so good for so long.
What do you wish you had more of? I could use more patience.
What is the next big thing in the auto business? The auto industry will become more of a service industry and it will use a variety of products - such as cars, convertibles, pickups and trailers - packaged into functions that are then sold as a mobility service. That could be a comfortable seat that passes by the door and takes me from my house to my office. It could be anything.