Florian Büngener, 41
Head of PR and communications, Hyundai Europe
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first job was a six-month apprenticeship at ABT Sportsline on the public relations and marketing team. At the time, I was in my third semester of sports management studies. Initially, I was primarily interested in motor sports but ended up in the tuning business. Now I consider it a stroke of luck. These six months really sparked my interest in the automotive industry. I remained in contact with the company’s management throughout my studies, right up until I completed my diploma thesis. That’s when I accepted my first job at ABT Sportsline and became head of PR.
Your greatest achievement?
There have been several successful moments along the way that had great impact on my life and career. However, to me it’s always about teamwork. I have had the privilege of working with some fantastic teams. Together we achieved great things. Recently, we built the corporate and brand communications team at Hyundai Europe from scratch. This team didn’t exist five years ago. Now it’s made up of four people covering topics such as internal communications, CSV [creating shared value] as well as corporate and brand communications. I’m very proud of the achievements we have made. Personally, I’m grateful for my wife’s and family’s support.
Family: Wife, Sina; daughter, Philippa, 7; sons, Valentin, 9, Niklas, 1
Born: Lemgo, Germany
Languages: German, English, Dutch, basic French
Education: MBA, Reinhold Würth Hochschule of University of Applied Sciences, Heilbronn, Germany
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Fresh out of university, I learned that internal lobbying is essential to kick off several projects. Back then, I tried to get things started without making sure all the required stakeholders were on board and convinced about the project from the beginning. At times, this caused frustration, a lack of understanding and mistrust. I learned that to achieve your goals you need to have everybody on board and fully convinced.
What is your current challenge at work?
Like the overall automotive industry, the field of communications is changing dramatically. A big challenge is that new target groups use the latest channels on a regular and irregular basis. There is also a wealth of ever-changing trending topics that you want to take ownership of. However, all this does create big opportunities. This kind of disruption is necessary as it inspires us to innovate. It also keeps the job interesting.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
When the s*%^ hits the fan, stay calm, take a deep breath, drink some coffee and start thinking. And, always have a strong team by your side.
2021-present: Head of public relations and communications, Hyundai Europe, Offenbach, Germany
2019-2021: Corporate and brand PR deputy general manager, Hyundai Europe, Offenbach
2017-2018: Corporate and brand manager and interim responsibility product PR, Hyundai Europe, Offenbach
2016-2017: Corporate and brand PR manager, Hyundai Europe, Offenbach
2011-2016: Press officer for Fiat and Abarth brands, FCA Germany, Frankfurt, Germany
2006-2011: Press spokesperson, ABT Sportsline, Kempten, Germany
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Be open and flexible. If you believe automotive mobility consists of four tires and a steering wheel, think again. Things are changing dramatically. When you start a career in the automotive industry, you are part of one of the most dramatic transitions to date. However, once you join the ride, you won’t want to get off.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I believe mobility industry communications is currently one of the most challenging and satisfying jobs out there. The topic of communications will continue to grow in importance and classic PR that we used to know will no longer be recognizable. In any future job I want to remain at the forefront of the communications wave and define new ways of speaking to our target audiences.
What do you do to relax?
Ideally, I go for a run or play golf. Most importantly, I like to spend time with the family and our dogs. That’s not as relaxing as one might think. Especially when your youngest is only 1!
What is your dream location to live?
Somewhere in the Alps or the Rocky Mountains with a lake and a ski resort nearby. A racetrack shouldn’t be too far away either.
What is your favorite driving song?
That really depends on the time of year and the kind of car I’m driving. The British band Jamiroquai is a perfect choice when driving a convertible, especially the song “Cosmic Girl.” However, I also often listen to the Foo Fighters on the way home from work, with “Run” being one of my favorites.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
It was on a cool, sunny autumn day driving a convertible from Kempten, Germany, to Merano, Italy. My wife and I loved taking this trip when we still lived in southern Germany. The combination of smells, sounds and sun made for an unforgettable experience.
What was your first car?
My parents bought me a Toyota Starlet after I came home with a driver’s license following my high school year in New Hampshire. That poor car’s transmission really suffered because up until then I had only driven an automatic.
A Hyundai Kona Electric.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
Although I would love to mention a super sleek sports car, I would be a Hyundai Tiger-R. It’s highly flexible, gets you anywhere and offers convenience along with zero emissions.