Six years ago when Hans Dieter Poetsch joined Volkswagen AG to head the automaker's finance division, one of his key tasks was to improve VW's reputation in the global financial markets. In 2008, Poetsch gave shareholders plenty to smile about and market watchers plenty to talk about.
Last year was a year of records for VW. The group sold a record 6.3 million vehicles and posted its best ever operating profit of 6.3 billion euros ($8.2 billion). The company also moved into 2009 with substantial net liquidity.
Financial analysts say that VW is in much better shape this year than its European volume and premium rivals.
Poetsch, 58, was the steady hand who played a key role in that achievement. He stuck to his goal of weatherproofing VW from the global economic storm through careful management of the company's finances.
Poetsch says financial strength is the top priority at VW. He has systematically been working on improving the carmaker's cost structures to ensure the group's future competitiveness and earnings power.
In 2008, VW cut costs by 1 billion euros mainly through cutting purchasing costs and boosting productivity.
"This is a good basis for meeting the challenges currently facing the automotive industry," Poetsch told shareholders at the company's annual meeting in April.
The Austrian-born Poetsch has a lot of experience in the auto industry. After studying industrial engineering at Darmstadt Technical University in Germany, he started his professional career in 1979 at BMW where he rose to become head of group controlling.
Before joining VW, Poetsch was management board chairman at automotive supplier Duerr AG in Stuttgart.