European Leading Women
Name: Hildegard Wortmann
Title: Senior vice president, BMW brand
Company: BMW Group
Location: Munich, Germany
Age: 49
Family: Partner
Born: Muenster, Germany
Nationality: German
Languages: German, English, French, some Spanish
Education: MBA from the University of London, London, England; degree in business administration from Muenster University of Applied Sciences, Muenster, Germany

Hildegard Wortmann

What attracted you to the auto industry?

I love driving, I love cars and I have always loved BMW. My first car was a BMW 316 and it was clear to me that one day I would work for this company. After eight years at Unilever it was time for a change so I applied to work here, got the job and joined the team in 1998.

First automotive job:

Soon after I started in BMW’s marketing division I was working on the re-launch of Mini. They liked that I used to work as marketing director for Calvin Klein because I brought a fresh perspective to the table.

What was your big break?

It was the re-launch of the Mini. It was my task to make it a global, modern and trendsetting brand. This project was very successful.

What is the major challenge you have faced in your career?

The major challenges lie ahead. We will see more changes in the next 10 years than we saw in the past 30 years. We have to find the right way to bring innovation into the vehicle that benefits the customer and creates a positive experience so we can retain our position as the world’s No. 1 premium automaker.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

I am grateful that I have met many interesting people during my career. They all provided me with inspiration and challenged me. They have brought out my maximum potential over the years.

What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry?

Whenever I give a speech about this industry I tell women the high level of diversity it offers. Women have great intuition and can handle big changes extremely well. Right now, big changes are what the auto industry offers. If you’re looking to shape, influence and inspire, this industry is the place to be.

What’s your favorite weekend activity?

I’m happiest outside! I love to hike, bike and run, especially in the mountains.

What keeps you awake at night?

Absolutely nothing! I can sleep soundly anywhere.

Name one thing about yourself that most people don’t know.

I can’t think of anything. And, if there were something there might be a good reason why people don’t know and that I keep it to myself.

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

It would have been very special to have met Nelson Mandela. He had such a positive influence. I really admired him.

If I had it to do all over again, I would ...

Do it exactly the same way and enjoy it even more. I’ve been given fantastic opportunities and am enjoying my life.

When and where was your last vacation?

I went to California last summer. It’s a place I love.

Name one talent you wish you had.

It would be nice to be a writer. Then I could work from my laptop anywhere in the world.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

First, never take yourself too seriously. That’s especially important in a large company. Second, live and let live. We all have different philosophies and we need to respect each other.

What advice would you give your child?

Follow your heart. Your heart has to enjoy what you do.

If you were a car, what car would you be?

A BMW Z8. I think it’s the most beautiful, sporty and classiest car ever made.

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