Barbara Vollert: Keeping Her Finger On The Porsche Pulse
From the Porsche office in the Zuffenhausen, Germany, Barbara Vollert feels an instant connection to the rest of the world. Hardly surprising considering that the Head of Sales Network Management and Development has visited all 750 Porsche Centres worldwide as part of performance improvement measures. She currently travels around the globe for about one fifth of her work time yet still feels she could do more.
“What I love the most in my job is making contacts in many countries and cultures and always getting to know new people,” Barbara said. “But of course I have to look after many internal processes, strategic projects and my team in Zuffenhausen, which is about 70 employees strong.”
Barbara is responsible for expanding and raising the professionalism of Porsche’s international network of importers and dealers. Her role is key to the success of the Porsche Business Excellence (PBE) campaign, which will be implemented worldwide as part of Porsche’s 2018 strategy.
“The traveling and training has demanded a lot of energy but all our dealers were enthused, and this spurs me and my team on to further efforts.”
This year, Barbara faced the enormous challenge of ensuring further growth of the trade volumes in a sustainable and profitable manner. In other words, more travelling was on the cards. But she was hardly complaining.
“I want to know what is happening in the world and what the problems are. That is why I talk to importers, dealers and customers on site and I look at what the competition is up to. China, especially, is a large, dynamic market and there are still many opportunities in the new car business.”
“The Chinese are constantly online with their smartphones and this is why mobile business and multichannel approaches are more important there than in established markets.”
Riding the digital train
Several years ago, prospective customers visited a Porsche Centre on an average of seven times before making a purchase. Now all it takes is one visit to seal the deal. Barbara gives full credit to the digital showrooms in city centres and luxury malls for this significant shift in customer behaviour.
She pointed out that placing the Porsche brand in an exciting and interactive presentation at the various points of sale helps customers identify more closely and emotionally with it.
But she is also quick to add that despite the digital assistance, trading is and will always remain a “people business”. On all her business trips, therefore, Barbara keeps a sharp eye on the country and its people.
“Last year, for example, I took a look at various Porsche Centres in South Africa,” she recalled. She found herself extremely concerned by the stark disparity between the slums on the one side and the fascinating world of Porsche on the other.”
“It certainly makes you stop and think. Travelling really brings you down to earth. This is why I always remind myself of how good my life is and what a great company I work for.”
“Life is too short to be grumpy”
Despite all her enthusiasm for Porsche and her job, Barbara allows herself time off now and again. She prefers either to lounge with her family, on her Harley-Davidson or under water.
“The Maldives are my favourite,” said the passionate diver who has seen all possible species of fish. “Diving in a shark cage is still on my to-do list.” She whipped out her smartphone to scroll through her underwater shots including one of sharks and people only centimeters apart. Such photos fill her with fascination instead of fear. Does she then regard fearlessness as a success factor in her job?
“As a manager, one should at least be assertive and thick-skinned. I always try to make consistent decisions, keep my promises and communicate transparently. I want to be a role-model.” And by this she means in attitude as well.
“I prefer to be in a good mood rather than in a bad one,” she said, flashing her winning smile. “Life is too short to be grumpy.”
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