Matthias Müller was born in 1953 joined the Volkswagen Group empire in 1977, as an apprentice toolmaker at Audi. He then had a career change, going back to college at Munich University to study computer science, but returned to Audi in 1984 as a junior manager in the IT department.
Who is Martin Winterkorn?
Müller rose through the Audi ranks during the 1980s and joined the planning department in 1993 – becoming product manager for the Audi A3, today the world’s most successful premium family hatchback that’s sold 3.5 million units and counting.
The success of the A3 earned him the top job for product management at Audi in 1995. Martin Winterkorn became chairman of Audi in 2002 and Müller became chief strategist for the Audi and Lamborghini model lines (Audi had recently purchased the Italian sports car company).
Müller and Winterkorn clearly worked well together: when Winterkorn became CEO of Volkswagen Group in 2007, Müller became his general representative and, later, head of product strategy for the entire Volkswagen Group.
In 2010, Müller CEO of Porsche AG and, in 2014, the chief information officer of the parent company Porsche Automobil Holding SE (the controlling owner of Volkswagen AG). Ironically, this came after a scandal between Porsche and Volkswagen, where the sports car brand ambitiously tried to take over Volkswagen AG.
Under Müller’s stewardship, Porsche has become Volkswagen Group’s most profitable subsidiary by car. An enthusiast, he took Porsche back to Le Mans, winning the 24 Hours race this year, and he has always ensured Porsches remain Porsches and don’t become diluted by sharing parts with other Volkswagen Group cars.
Today, Müller has took on the toughest job in the motor industry, becoming CEO of the Volkswagen Group following the resignation of Winterkorn this week.
His closeness to the Porsche and Piech families (he was actually the choice of former chief Ferdinand Piech to replace Martin Winkerkorn earlier this year in a failed boardroom revolt), and his willingness to openly speak his mind, will ensure he has good support for the massive task he has ahead. It’s a formidable challenge indeed.