|Estimated value:||€100 million|
|Country of origin:||Germany|
|Source of Wealth:||entrepreneur|
The former CEO of Volkswagen AG is a public person in the Federal Republic. First at Bosch and then at Audi, he moved to VW in 1993, where he sat on the board from 2000 and became CEO from 2006. Due to his involvement in the VW emissions scandal, after very successful years, he was so heavily criticized that he resigned in 2015. There are currently several proceedings against him in Germany and the USA for fraud and other crimes, the outcome of which is currently open.
Little is known about his childhood and youth. From 1966 Martin Winterkorn, who was born in Leonberg, studied metallurgy and metal physics in Stuttgart. From 1973 Winterkorn worked as a doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research, which he finally completed with a doctorate. From then on he began working in free industry.
Initially, he worked as a researcher at Robert Bosch GmbH, an automotive supplier. He did this so successfully that in 1981 he joined the car manufacturer Audi as Assistant to the Board of Management for Quality Assurance. Further career advances followed, such as being appointed division manager and, from 1990, head of all quality assurance at Audi.
Here, too, he gained an excellent reputation in relation to his work and his performance, even though his authoritarian dealings with employees were sometimes criticized at the time. He probably retained this character trait until the end of his professional career, not without being very successful with it.
So in 1993 he finally switched to Volkswagen. Here, too, he was initially active in the management of quality assurance. Just one year later he became general representative of VW AG, and from 2000 he was promoted to the board of directors. Here he was initially the board member for the “Research and Development” department.
In 2006, Martin Winterkorn reached the peak of his career. After Bernd Pischetsrieder left, he became his successor as head of the entire group and thus CEO.
His salary in 2011 was over 17 million euros, a record for a CEO of a DAX company. In addition, he acquired pension entitlements amounting to 1.33 million euros per year. The great successes that VW celebrated under his direction initially seemed to justify these sums, even if there was some criticism of these amounts in German society.
During this time he was also an honorary professor at several universities, such as the Technical University of Budapest and the Technical University of Dresden.
Since the emissions scandal, for which Martin Winterkorn bears nominal responsibility, became known, his reputation has been completely ruined. US authorities had uncovered manipulation of the exhaust gas values of VW diesel cars. Martin Winterkorn resigned as CEO of VW in 2015, as well as from Porsche Holding and from the supervisory board post at Audi.
As of 2020, several procedures for fraud and similar offenses have been opened against him. In addition to extremely sensitive fines, he could also face imprisonment.
His entire time on the board of VW can be seen as a great success – until the emissions scandal cost him his good reputation, his job and maybe even his freedom. Up until then, he had always led Volkswagen to new records. Highest sales figures, tens of thousands of new jobs and record sales and profit figures. In the wake of the scandal, these achievements faded more than a little, and yet they are part of Martin Winterkorn’s largely successful life and work.
His many years of successful activity as a manager was reflected in numerous awards. Perhaps the most important of these was the Manager of the Year 2012 award from Manager Magazin. The two honorary doctorates he received from the Technical University of Chemnitz and the Technical University of Munich may be nominally more important. He is also an honorary professor at Tongji University in Shanghai.
“Board members earn a lot and carry a lot of responsibility. Mistakes can quickly have very serious consequences. Appropriately consistent action must then be taken even if the results are insufficient.”
“I expect my top managers to have a secure feeling for cars: euphoria for things that are really good, intolerance for weaknesses.”
“The employees who know me from my time as a quality man at Audi or VW know that I am not interested in hierarchies, but only in the hard facts. Especially when it comes to hot topics, if a problem arises somewhere.”
“Volkswagen should be at the top in every respect, including when it comes to responsible corporate governance. I’m careful when I use the word ‘role model’ – but our industry, and therefore also Volkswagen, can very well be called a pioneer: when it comes to working conditions and the responsible use of our planet’s resources, nobody can fool us.”
During his time at VW, he had a pond built for koi on his property. The construction of a heating system for this pond alone devoured 60,000 euros, which of course VW paid for.
Martin Winterkorn is the father of two sons with two different women.
Shortly before the emissions scandal became known, he and his wife founded a company of which his wife is the sole managing director. Martin Winterkorn transferred large parts of his Net Worth there.
|Estimated value:||€100 million|