Josef Graubmann, 32
Head of regional sales, Webasto Thermo & Comfort
Family:Wife, Andrea; son, Anton, 3;
daughter, Greta, 1
Born: Eichstaett, Germany
Languages: German, English
Education: Degree in social economics, Kempten University of Applied Sciences, Kempten, Germany
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I never had any doubt that I would be working in the automotive industry. As a child I was fascinated by the industry's technology and I admired the motivation shown by the people I knew who worked in the field. My fascination only grew stronger after I started an internship with Webasto's marketing and events department. I soon knew this industry was everything I imagined it would be.
Your greatest achievement?
To me, great achievements take teamwork, motivation and timing. I'm proud that I have been able to give my team a clear vision that is helping us as we diversify into the agricultural and construction machinery market. We see significant growth potential that we plan to tap using our knowledge and presence as a global automotive supplier.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
While I cannot think of one particular example, I am certainly a big believer in the importance of failure. It has been my best teacher because it has made me a more motivated and enthusiastic team leader. Failure has taught me to analyze what went wrong and pushed me to try even harder the next time, regardless of the challenges.
What is your current challenge at work?
As we enter new markets my biggest challenge is to motivate my team. I need them to see that the opportunities outweigh the risks so that they are hungry to succeed. I am also working to boost the company's internal understanding of the very different needs our current global customers have.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
The passion the people in this industry feel for what we do. Everyone wants to start the next trend and be No. 1 in the market. It is also wonderful to see how much small and midsize companies contribute to innovation.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I actually have two bits of advice to share. 1) Try it. This has motivated me to take on new challenges and fight for my ideas. 2) Change always starts with the heart. This reminds me that I have to be open to changing myself before I ask my team to do the same.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Do what you are passionate about and fight for your ideas. Also, don't forget to think like a customer. This will help you generate ideas in areas where you really can add value to your company.
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
I work in the sales department so my first conversations would be with people in the company who have the most frequent contact with our customers to better understand our position in the market. I would seek regular, unfiltered feedback from the market by using our internal resources. In addition, I would work daily on our company's communications strategy to ensure the entire team was familiar with our mission.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I don't have my heart set on a specific job because every job I have had, especially at Webasto, has been fascinating and challenging. However, I hope my future positions include the chance to lead both regional and global teams. I like to develop and implement new strategies and I am open to working in areas besides sales.
What do you do to relax?
I love spending time with my kids. They motivate and fascinate me daily because they learn quickly and are extremely open to change. I also like skiing and mountaineering.
My first car was an Audi 100 but my first vehicle was a Vespa 50 Speciale. It was older than me and it spent most of the time I owned it in my garage.
Jan. 2016-present: Head of regional sales, Webasto Thermo & Comfort, Gilching, Germany
May 2014–2015: Head of international sales heavy duty, Webasto Thermo & Comfort, Molinella, Italy
2012-2014: Head of business development for off-highway, Webasto Thermo & Comfort, Molinella
2011-2012: International business development manager, Webasto Thermo & Comfort, Gilching
2008-2010: International sales manager for OE truck business unit, Webasto, Gilching