Daniel Wehsarg, 45
Executive vice president purchasing corporate and digital innovation, Hella
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I started at Daimler as a project team member. Later I got to lead this team. We worked on target cost achievements on the vehicle program level. I was interested in working in the automotive industry because I find its combination of complex technologies and processes with emotional products fascinating. One of the most fascinating aspects is that, after a couple of years, you can see the results of your work on an actual product out in the streets. And, thanks to the relatively short product life cycles, one can have an impact on several generations of automotive products.
Your greatest achievement?
I was promoted from Hella's head of series purchasing lighting to global head of purchasing. This happened within only three years.
Family: Wife, Francine; daughter, Lucie, 8; son, Samuel, 6
Born: Essen, Germany
Languages: German, French, English, basic Spanish and Russian
Education: MBA, College des Ingenieurs, Paris, France; master's degree in engineering, Ecole Centrale Paris; master's degree in electrical engineering, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
I don't believe in failure. In my opinion no one really ever fails. We have to see it as either success or as a learning opportunity to do better in the future.
What is your current challenge at work?
I have to "navigate" in a world of short-term challenges. That includes the global microchip shortage. However, there are also significant mid- to long-term changes. In fact, the automotive industry is dealing with the biggest transformation since its inception due to the electrification of the drivetrain.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Love it, change it or leave it. To me that means you should love and embrace what you are doing. If that is not the case, you should change your situation so you can love what you are doing again. If neither is possible, you should quit and look for something else.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Prepare yourself for a fascinating professional journey and many interesting challenges that will allow you to grow and evolve if you embrace them positively. Be open to constant change. Although automotive is a very big, global industry it sometimes feels like a village. Therefore, it's important to create and maintain your network. That includes contacts within your company, across companies, and even from across regions. If you don't like challenges and constant change, the automotive industry might not be the right place to work for you.
2019-present: Executive vice president purchasing corporate and digital innovation, Hella, Lippstadt, Germany
2016-2019: Executive vice president procurement and supplier quality, Hella, Lippstadt
2015-2016: Executive vice president procurement and member of the executive board business division lighting, Hella, Lippstadt
2013-2015: Head of series purchasing business division lighting, Hella, Lippstadt
2008-2013: Engagement manager, McKinsey & Company, Düsseldorf, Germany
2006-2008: Project team leader, MBtech Group, Stuttgart, Germany
2004-2006: Project team leader, Daimler, Stuttgart
What do you do to relax?
I like to spend time with my children. However, I also play double bass with my Jazz band, The Bourbon Street Stompers. I also enjoy cooking.
What is your dream location to live?
After I retire, I would love to live in the Caribbean.
What is your favorite driving song?
Music is wonderful while driving and I love listening to so many songs while on the road. That's why I'm not able to pick just one.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
Recently, my family and I took a short vacation in the Hamburg area. Despite the pandemic restrictions we still managed to organize a few wonderful days for our children and ourselves.
What was your first car?
It was a BMW 318i.
It's a Volvo XC90 plug-in hybrid.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would be a Mercedes-Benz W124. Its development started in the year I was born. It is known as one of the most reliable, durable and successful cars ever built. I admire those qualities, which I aspire to have myself.