Dedication –
6 Questions / 6 Reflections.

Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG and awarded Manager of the Year 2012 by the business magazine “manager magazin”, talks about dedication as a driving force behind business success and its importance for personal fulfillment.


Professor Winterkorn, what does the term “dedication” mean to you?

I discovered early on that it is only possible to achieve great things with genuine dedication and passion. Dedication is first and foremost an attitude: it means giving your all, whether you are an athlete, a scientist or an engineer. I have the utmost respect for people who show such dedication.


How can you tell if someone is truly dedicated to their work?

People whose heart is not truly in their work tend to settle for less. Dedication makes people go the extra mile, encourages them to consider how to make things even better. Dedication is a relentless driving force, it’s not an easy option – but it does leave you with a profound feeling of contentment.


Dedication invariably involves reaching a goal. How did you discover that your goal is to build perfect cars?

When I was a boy growing up in southwest Germany, I used to see Porsche test drivers whizzing by in their 911s. Those images are still etched in my mind. Later on, as a young quality assurer at Audi, I learned that there are two crucial factors in carmaking. First of all, there is the big idea – the concept behind the car. But a car can only be truly great if every seemingly insignificant detail is perfect in design and execution. So secondly, you need perseverance – it is the only way to achieve perfection.


Why is dedication so typical of the Volkswagen Group?

Because carmaking is more than a business for us. We love our cars. And we do our utmost to make them more visually appealing, efficient and perfect – the new Golf is a case in point. This goal is shared by everyone in the Company, from production line workers to the Board of Management. Only in this way can we ensure the best possible performance: the best car, the most innovative technology, the most environmentally compatible plant and the best training for our employees. Because of this, dedication is the key to achieving the targets that we have set out in our Strategy 2018.


Psychologists tell us that dedication requires concentrating fully on the task at hand. When do you experience moments like this?

During test drives, when we put the cars through their paces shortly before they go into series production. I shut out everything else and concentrate entirely on the moment. I try to really feel the vehicle, its qualities and materials, I discuss the details of the engine, transmission and suspension with my colleagues, and I try to envisage whether they fit the specific brand and its vision. Those are very intense sessions.


Environmental compatibility is increasingly becoming a success factor in automotive production. Is it possible to be as dedicated to reducing CO2 emissions as to developing a twelve-cylinder engine?

I don’t see why not. Whether we’re talking about a one-liter car or a Bugatti Veyron – at the end of the day, it’s a question of overcoming apparent limitations. And that is only possible with complete dedication – and, of course, with the technical expertise of a Group that has over 40,000 researchers and developers in its ranks. Dedication and ability go hand-in-hand. And both are essential for people to reach their full potential.


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