Sylvia Neubauer, 44
VP customer interaction management , BMW Group
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I joined BMW five years ago as vice president for customer life cycle management. I thought my know-how regarding customer experience, data and analytics from different industries would provide added value to the company. In addition, I feel that during times of disruption and digitalization, a person with my experience and my passion for cars would be able to make a difference.
Born: Bad Tölz, Germany
Languages: German, English, French, some Spanish
Education: Executive management program in general management, INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France, and Singapore; MBA, Wuerttemberg Academy for Administration and Business, Stuttgart, Germany; international airline professional qualification, IHK Frankfurt, Germany
Your greatest achievement?
Professionally, it was rolling out BMW’s one-to-one customer interaction system across the company’s most important global markets within three years. This essential resource delivers relevant interactions across all channels including dealers, call centers, the web and customers. It helps nurture leads and maximize conversion into sales from both new target groups and our existing customer base. It also increases customer engagement, satisfaction and loyalty.
Personally, I’m proud to have been able to complete a half-marathon after years of being a couch potato.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
I’m a very positive individual and easily connect with people, therefore, I had to learn that being too enthusiastic and initially giving too much credit to others isn’t always a good idea. It’s better to observe matters for a while before making any important decisions.
What is your current challenge at work?
The demand for digital solutions is so high at the moment that we struggle to provide the resources needed to undertake further rollouts in our global markets.
July 2019-present: Vice president for customer interaction management, BMW, Munich, Germany
2017-2019: Vice president for customer experience, data & analytics, BMW, Munich
2015-2017: Vice president for customer lifecycle management, BMW, Munich
2015-2016: Member of advisory board, CRM and digital transformation, Caremondo, Munich
2014-2015: Founder and managing director, Caremondo, Munich
2013-2014: Managing director ProSiebenSat.1 Digital and Adjacent; senior vice president group CRM, ProSiebenSat.1 Media, Unterföhring, Germany
2008-2013: Multiple roles including member of board of management, director CRM & online, E-Plus Mobilfunk, Dusseldorf, Germany
1999-2007: Multiple roles including team manager CRM, customer data analysis, Lufthansa, Frankfurt, Germany
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Always stay true to yourself. Fight for what you believe in. Never ever give up and ignore the naysayers.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
It’s incredibly exciting to be in the auto industry right now. So many things are changing and many things are becoming more complex. There are new competitors, tougher regulations as well as increasing sustainability and digitalization challenges. The needs and wants of prospective and existing customers play an ever-important role. Data is the new oil. We need to be able to connect the dots between customers and vehicle data so that marketing and sales can provide insights that are helpful to engineering and production. Tear down silos because there’s great opportunity for new talent and new thinking here. One thing you need to bring along, though, is perseverance.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
There is no specific role I have in mind. To me, what’s most important is adding value and making a difference whenever possible.
What do you do to relax?
On weekends I fetch my horse Rusty from the paddock, saddle up and ride for a couple of hours along meadows and through the woods. I also like to do yoga, drive my vintage BMW Z8 or ride my BMW S 1000 R.
What is your dream location to live?
For me it’s not about a specific place. I get inspiration from the people around me and from challenges that ignite me.
What is your favorite driving song?
That would be “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen and “Unstoppable” by Sia.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
We took a trip to Florence, Italy, with 50 supercars to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. We stopped at wonderful locations such as La Roesa at the Bernina Pass, Lago Iseo, the Ferrari Museum, Autodromo di Modena and spent a day racing at a track. I even won the women’s division.
What was your first car?
A lovely Fiat 500.
My company car is a BMW X5. Privately, I own a Z8 and a Porsche 911 that I bought before I joined BMW. My husband also loves cars. He collects supercars and is now the proud owner of a Lamborghini Aventador S.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would be the BMW Z8 in the James Bond movie “The World Is Not Enough.” Powerful, armored and always on a mission.