Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess

“Motion is my main passion”

Just a few weeks ago he has reached the top. Since April TUM Alumni Herbert Diess is the new Chief Executive Officer of the Volkswagen Group. A big task, which the 59-year-old engineer takes on with a lot of vigour and passion.

When VW CEO Herbert Diess gets off his car at TUM Campus Garching he immediately feels taken back to his time as a student of mechanical engineering: ”This is exactly how we used to sit there and studied”, he remembers when seeing the students with their books in front of the Institute for Machine Tools and Industrial Management. Just a few weeks ago the engineer has been appointed the new Chief Executive Officer of the Volkswagen Group. Prior to that the 59-year-old had been head of the master brand for two years.

A lifelong passion

As long as he can remember Herbert Diess has been fascinated by cars. It all started in kindergarden with a small box of Matchbox cars. His grandparents had a farm where he got to practice driving tractors and motorcycles. “Motion has always been my main passion. Accordingly my career has fulfilled many of my dreams” the Mechanical Engineer summarizes. From the University of Applied Sciences he came to TUM in 1978, to study Mechanical Engineering at the renowned iwb and to do his doctorate. Today, he still has many fond memories of that time: “There were professors who taught us a lot, also emotionally. We had possibilities to work with companies from the industry. An amazing chance to also get a feeling for what the working world is like. I have formed friendships, of which some are still holding strong today.”

I have formed friendships, of which some are still holding strong today.

His doctorate was followed by an impressive career in the industry: Herbert Diess initially joined Bosch in Stuttgart and from 1996 onwards worked for BMW in various management positions in Germany and abroad, and then from 2007 until 2014 as a member of the Executive Board. Juli 2015 brought the change: since then Herbert Diess was heading the Volkswagen brand. “It intrigued me a lot to take responsibility at Volkswagen. I really wanted to bring new momentum and prepare Volkswagen for the great changes of our industry” Herbert Diess says. For him the car is one of the means of transport of the future: “The electric drive is right around the corner and will lead to much more sustainable driving. Automated driving will make sure that we are safer when moving around. The position of cars will be stronger in the future, not weaker”, is his assessment.

A passion or the product

In the recent weeks the responsibility on Herbert Diess’ shoulders has increased even further: in April he has been appointed the new Chief Executive Officer of the Volkswagen group. For him this position is mainly about the company’s further development and about picking up the pace even more. Here, a passion for the product is an important element of his success: “You have to love what you do. To me my profession is a godsend because I am a passionate motorist, motorcyclist and car maker.”

Apparently Herbert Diess has passed this passion on to his kids: all three of them are studying Engineering, his youngest daughter even at TUM. “My children have seen their father enjoy his work, being able to achieve a lot and travel the world. Maybe that has encouraged them to take a similar path”, Herbert Diess concludes.