Managing director, Germany , Polestar
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first automotive job was when I was eight. I helped present the Audi ASF Concept at the 1994 IAA auto show in Frankfurt. I vividly remember that moment as the beginning of my aspiration to really work with cars and be part of the industry. Later, as an adult, and while working at U.S. auto shows for Audi, I met a lot of kids who had the same look of awe when they saw the cars. Whenever possible, I tried to get them involved with the brand and the world of cars by asking them or their parents if it was OK for them to come up on the stand to sit inside an Audi supercar, such as the R8 or RS7 Performance. I hope this sparked their interest to become serious about the automotive industry, just like it did for me all those years ago in Frankfurt.
Born: Schwäbisch Hall, Germany
Languages: German, English, Italian
Education: Master’s degree in integral economic development, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., USA; MBA as well as a bachelor’s degree in general business and entrepreneurship, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA
Your greatest achievement?
Putting together the team that has successfully launched Polestar from scratch in Germany in just 12 months. Our 2020 results confirm that our mission to launch this new marque in a traditional, cautious and challenging market was successful. In little more than a year, Polestar went from zero brand awareness and volume to having seven premium dealer groups as investors and more than 1,000 cars sold, despite the challenges created in the country by the COVID-19 pandemic.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
It's difficult to say because without any failures I wouldn't be here now. However, one big mistake was not believing in myself after college. I didn't trust my intuition to pursue my passion for the automotive industry. When I was growing up, I absolutely loved cars and driving, but I had the impression that a job in the automotive industry wouldn't be a serious enough profession for me. I wanted to help change the world and do something that I perceived to be more consequential than becoming an vehicle engineer or a dealership manager. After college I soon found my work wasn't rewarding enough. While I learned a lot, especially at discount supermarket Aldi, none of those early non-automotive jobs sparked my emotions or generated a sense of satisfaction. It was then that I realized where my heart was leading me. I focused on getting into the auto industry because I knew that was going to fulfill my overriding love of cars. On the upside, the experience of working with companies outside the industry gave me absolute certainty that now I am in the right place. This is 100 percent the right industry and Polestar is 100 percent the right company for me.
What is your current challenge at work?
Introducing a new premium brand is difficult anywhere in the world, but the task becomes even harder when you consider the nature and mindset of German consumers. Germans -- particularly when purchasing a car -- are highly demanding, conservative, risk averse people who are very reluctant to buying a vehicle online, which is the cornerstone of Polestar's direct selling strategy. In addition, so far they have been slow to embrace the concept of electric vehicles. Their mantra seems to be: "Better not try anything new for now."
2019-2020: Head of global marketing operations, Maserati, Modena, Italy
2017-2019: Head of global commercial training and Master Maserati program, Maserati, Modena
2015-2017: Lead international trainer, Maserati, Modena
2012-2015: Program manager and product specialist, Audi of America, Herndon, Virginia, USA
2014-2015: Senior research fellow, Catholic Relief Services, Baltimore, Maryland
2010-2012: Shady Grove Center manager, University of Maryland, Rockville, Maryland
2009-2010: Language and culture instructor, Berlitz, Rockville, Maryland
2008-2009: District manager, Aldi Supermarkets, Frederick, Maryland
What is the best advice you have ever received?
One of my early mentors, a taekwondo grandmaster, told me: "Just do it." If you truly believe in something, you must pursue it even if you don't know exactly what will happen. The beginning is the hardest part of any journey because you can't answer all the questions. Life is a bit like being in a fog bank of uncertainty. How can you see the next 10 feet ahead? By walking forward 10 feet. Don't be afraid to take those first steps.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
This is really advice for life: Time is our most precious asset. It's limited and we all have the same number of hours in a day. The older you get, the more you realize that you must not waste a single moment. Trust and be honest with yourself about what you can and can't do. What you can do, learn to do better. What you can't yet do, learn to do. Invest your time wisely to grow every day and know that you can do anything.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
Since I'm too old to become a racecar driver, I'll settle for CEO in the automotive industry.
What do you do to relax?
I like to drive on the Nürburgring, play the drums, read and exercise.
What is your dream location to live?
I would love to be somewhere warm:Los Angeles or Sardinia.
What is your favorite driving song?
"Hate It or Love It" by The Game.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
During my summers in high school, I would drive my old Camaro Z28 with my friends from Washington D.C. to Ocean City, Maryland. Life seemed so easy and simple back then.
What was your first car?
My first car was a 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Classic 9C1.
I drive a 2021 Polestar 2 with the performance package.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would be a Polestar 1.