“As soon as I turned 18, I immediately got my driver’s license and used my savings to buy a car, I even drove Millemiglia three times!”. To tell it is Hildegard Wortmann, first and only female member of AUDI AG’s Board of Directors for marketing and sales. I meet her during Design Week, in Milan, in what has been created for the occasion Audi House of Progress.
How did you come to fill this role? The story of Hildegard Wortmann begins in Münster, where she was born and where she graduated in language and business administration. After university, he started his career at Unilever in 1990, where he held various positions, including product and brand manager and later became marketing director for Calvin Klein. “I did it for 8 years, and then I realized I needed a change, something new for me. And you know, I’ve always loved cars,” so in 1998 he joined the BMW Group, where he first spearheaded the relaunch of MINI as Head of Brand Communication and is generally involved in marketing re-development, innovation projects, product management and after-sales assistance. Twenty years later, on July 1, 2019, she is nominated first and only woman in AUDI AG Board of Directors for Marketing and Sales. It still is today.
“I have been working in the automotive industry for twenty years, certainly not a new situation for me [essere l’unica donna al tavolo, ndr], but I want to change things. I think there are incredible women in this industry, young talents who just need someone to give them a place where they can express themselves and gain visibility. I try to be that person “, explains Wortmann. Among his (many) projects to promote empowerment is also a all digitallysummed up under the #LLX (Listen Learn Exhange) hashtag, as she sees her personal diversity program as a way she wants to help women get to the positions they want faster and gain more exposure.
“The car industry is still a tough industry for women, and I admit that I also had to struggle with beaks and claws to get the job I wanted, but I did. What I can really say with an open heart is that I “I have never had a job that I did not really like and it can be done, it is possible, you have to be very robust, you have to learn to say no. You have to be direct, always say what you want,” says Wortmann. Resistance and eyes on the goal (the real and not what is imposed on us or imposed on us). These are the principles that also guide her in leadership every day, along with a special attention to diversity.
When it comes to creating a team for a project, she explains, she always likes to leave a space reserved for someone who is totally unrelated to the rest of the group, such as an unexpected, young talent or a retired expert. An element that messes with the cards and leads to success. “As a leader for me, diversity is one of the biggest tasks and responsibilities […] my job is to make sure that a team is the best it can be, and for it to be, it has to be varied internally: determined in terms of gender, but also in terms of age, cultural background, nationality, says he. confident.
Along with diversity, there is another theme that is very dear to the successful leader: that of sustainability. “The younger generation simply would not understand if we did not take care of it. I recently read a study by McKinsey, which says that 75% of millennials would leave their favorite brand if they found one that does the same, but in a more sustainable way, impressive if yes.considers that the percentage for baby boomers is 34%, he says.And in a sector like the automotive industry, the argument is even more central if we consider that by 2035 production must be completely converted to electricity. “For us, sustainability can not just be about launching electric cars, it’s just part of it. It is the total value that counts, changes and transformations must also be made along the chain. The way factories are made and work e.g. . Keep in mind that Audi already has some zero-impact systems and others will follow; the next generation will judge us and measure the results according to our promises. It’s time to act. ”
There is no going back. “We have only one chance, and that is to move towards CO2-neutral and thus electric mobility. The way we built our House of Progress here in Milan makes you understand how marketing and communication no longer work on it. old way. We must create a context, create value, unique experiences. Demonstrate what values the brand fights for, you can no longer have a clear attitude. Consumers want to know what this brand fights for: by building the Progress House, we would give shape to who we are and the role we want to have in society, ”he concludes.
Resistance, determination, passion. These are the words that are the common thread in life and career Hildegard Wortmann and she also wants to convey that to those who work with her. When he selects candidates, he tells me, he makes sure to understand what they really want. “I have to feel that they really want to fill the role they are looking for, because I believe that in order to do your job well, you really have to like it. If you do not like it, if you do it for a compromise, if you do it because you think you should. or because someone tells you, you will not succeed and you will not do it to your full potential and with passion “.
What awaits you now with the work? The challenge with the electrical. “Of course it’s ambitious and it’s definitely going to be difficult, but Audi is clear, we already made the decision a few years ago to move towards electric and now we are in pole position because we have prepared in advance and can only make progress … very happy that this is happening and I can see that changes that seemed impossible are finally becoming a reality. Things can really change, that’s progress for me. “
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