What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
When I saw the first pictures of the Audi TT show car in 1995, I knew I had found the company of my dreams. I started my career in 1996 at Audi in sales and marketing controlling and soon became a member of the internationalization project that was focusing on international mergers and acquisitions.
I would say it’s my contribution to Audi’s very profitable and exclusive dealer network, which includes digital retail, aftersales and used cars. The opening of Audi City as the world’s first digital automotive showroom combined with our progressive training concepts are key elements of our sales concepts for the future.
Biggest failure and what it taught you?
In the beginning of my career, I judged people at a very early stage of working with them as either strong or weak. I did this prior to having a clear understanding of their situation, the environment they were working in, their personality and experience, and so on. All of those factors that can provide insight into why people behave as they do. Today, I know that a team consists of people with varying personalities. Each person has different strengths and weaknesses. This is something you definitely need to understand to get the best results from your team. People management is key – labor unions are our partners. You can never spend enough management time on this topic.
What is your current challenge at work?
Building up a professional team to focus on the right concepts to help us evolve our sales and distribution system to respond even better to a world that is changing faster than ever.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
That China is the world’s biggest workbench for almost all products and yet exports such a small number of locally manufactured cars. I’m not sure if all the players in our industry are ready for that day – which will surely come.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
You can’t lead a company effectively unless your employees are behind you all the way.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
First, connect with your customers. Second, a car is much more than just a car. Third, business is not over once the car is sold. On the contrary, aftersales will become an increasingly important driver in the digital world.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
I would sharpen the company’s focus in two areas: digitalization and China. I would prioritize implementing the organizational and structural implications of both on our business.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
Honestly, I would say I am one of the luckiest businessmen on the planet. I’m working for the company of my dreams and my job is full of interesting and challenging topics every day. My future is working on the future of Audi.
What do you do to relax?
I love nature. I grew up in Sittersdorf, a very small village in the Austrian countryside. Everything connected with that place is relaxing for me: skiing, hiking and biking, but also cooking, farming and friends. Family and friends are of the utmost importance to me.
A 10-year-old Fiat Ritmo that I bought with my own money. Sadly, after just three months I was forced to switch to a German brand.
2015-present: Senior director, sales strategy and retail business development, Audi, Ingolstadt, Germany
2009-2014: Director, dealer development and dealer qualification, Audi, Ingolstadt
2006-2009: Head of international dealer network development, Audi, Ingolstadt
2003-2006: Secretary general and personal assistant to the supervisory board chairman, Volkswagen Group, Ferdinand Piech, Wolfsburg, Germany
2000-2003: Assistant to the board member for sales and marketing, Georg Flandorfer, Audi, Ingolstadt
1998-2000: Senior advisor for mergers and acquisitions, Audi, Ingolstadt
1996-1998: Advisor, sales and marketing controlling, Audi, Ingolstadt