Frank Witter, 61
Chief Financial Officer, Volkswagen Group
COMPANY: Chief Financial Officer
BASED: Wolfsburg, Germany
Starting at Volkswagen in 1998, Witter has spent the bulk of his career at Europe’s largest carmaker. He worked his way up from group treasury to become Volkswagen of America CEO in 2005, later rising to executive manager for the VW’s entire North American region. In September 2008 he was appointed CEO of the group’s captive financial services business. He was promoted to VW Chief Financial Officer in October 2015 in the aftermath of the company’s diesel-emissions cheating scandal. Widely respected in the financial community, Witter has decided to retire during the course of next year.
REASON FOR WINNING
Observers would not be faulted for wondering if VW Group was ever actually hurt by its diesel debacle as the company has deftly navigated the pitfalls caused by the crisis. VW avoided panic-driven sales to raise cash. Only a few assets have been sold since the troubles started and all of the deals have been at terms beneficial to the company. This includes the recent initial public offering of VW Group trucks unit Traton. In his first full year as CFO, the company bounced back from a historic loss to post a profit. The automaker also never reported net income below 11 billion euros from 2017 onward, despite doling out more than 30 billion euros to cover costs related to the scandal. Financially, the company has 18.7 billion euros in industrial net cash, leading Moody’s to write in June that its liquidity gives it the luxury of funding "sizeable cash requirements" that might arise under an extended downturn.