“The hospitality we encountered was overwhelming”

As it celebrates its 100th anniversary, the BMW Group can look back on a successful history – made possible by the people who work for the company, day in and day out. Many of these employees not only do valuable work securing the future of the BMW Group, but demonstrate real social commitment and a personal passion for the models of the BMW Group brands. BMW Magazine digital introduces some of them in a three-part series.

Julian Baumann and Jun Takagi
Interviews and transcripts
Benedikt Sarreiter

Martha Aida (27)

Out of a fan page with just a few hundred users, Martha Aida has created a community of more than 200,000 members. “Everyone’s opinion is important,” she says. “They all help MINI get to know and understand its customers better.”

Digital Communication MINI, Japan

Gunnar Berger (43)

In addition to his job at the BMW Leipzig plant, Gunnar Berger does voluntary work helping refugees cope with everyday problems. He has also suggested ways in which the BMW Group can support humanitarian projects, such as making prosthetic limbs out of carbon-fiber waste. He often meets other BMW employees who, like himself, are involved in volunteer work. His hope is that the BMW Group will, in the future, show even greater support for this kind of activity. The company already awards an annual prize to employees for their social commitment; Berger was last year’s winner.

Product Integration BMW Leipzig, Germany

James Hu (50)

“The key word for me is orientation. At BMW, I’m currently developing a link from smartphone to car that helps the driver navigate more precisely. Outside of working hours, I’m also involved in a project to improve education in deprived areas of China and to help underprivileged schoolchildren. The BMW Group already does a lot; it would be great if it could offer more support to the peace process and help rebuild villages destroyed by wars.”

Software Engineer, USA

Stefanie Hausler (28)

What attracts you to the BMW Group?
I was there when the BMW i3 and i8 concept cars were presented, and I was really impressed. My two preferred areas are IT and logistics.
What aspect of the future interests you most?
I think it will be very exciting to see how mobility develops in the future.
How does a company approach markets with different requirements and expectations?
I think the BMW Group will be an innovator, since the company was very quick to start experimenting with mobility concepts. It has had the confidence to look at new business models that go far beyond the conventional “we design and sell cars” approach.

Trainee in the Global Leader Development Program (GLDP)

Maximilian Mendler (23)

“I study electrical engineering and, at the same time, am acquiring practical knowledge in the BMW Group’s development departments. I think that in the future, everyone will customize their own car in line with their personal requirements… but not just as passengers - they’ll also continue to be drivers.”

Participant in BMW’s SpeedUp Program for Bachelor Students

Markus Simon (43)

Markus Simon’s work is dedicated to developing an appropriate drive system for Rolls-Royce – “The best car in the world.” In addition, he puts his engineering knowledge to good use with the charity Ugandakreis Heiligenstadt e.V., which modernizes schools and hospitals in Uganda. “I think it’s amazing that the BMW Group promotes and acknowledges the voluntary activities of its employees,” he says. “Their current commitment to refugees in Munich is also exemplary.” Simon is clearly confident that, as a global company, the BMW Group is moving in the right direction.

Head of Process Chain Drive at Rolls-Royce

Mirjam Schlichter (26)

What made you decide to work for the BMW Group?
My family has always driven BMW cars, and I guess I inherited my passion for BMW from my father.
What does your work entail?
As part of the Global Leader Development Program, I support operational HR management with tasks such as recruiting and succession planning.
What aspect about the future interests you most?
New job concepts and working environments – changes to the way we work. Even in senior positions, many younger employees are no longer willing to put their families second, and are now looking for family-friendly work models, such as part-time employment, job shares, and flexible working hours.

Trainee in the Global Leader Development Program (GLDP)

Hauke Glässing (34)

For years, Hauke Glässing dreamed of taking his motorcycle on a long tour to explore new countries, preferably far from the traditional tourist routes. His dream became reality: his boss understood this wanderlust and granted him a six-month sabbatical to ride from Singapore to Munich. With the department able to fill in during his absence, Glässing set off with his girlfriend for the long trip home. Riding a BMW F 800 GS and BMW F 700 GS – “both modified and very reliable” – the pair traveled across Myanmar, India and Nepal; China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan; Iran, Turkey and the Balkans. They experienced some extreme situations on the way, including the devastating earthquake in Nepal – but at no point during their exhausting journey did they lose heart. “The most overwhelming experience,” says Glässing, “was the incredible hospitality we encountered everywhere we went.” For their part, the couple collected donations, which they handed over to SOS Children’s Villages along their route. Glässing says he will always have fond memories of his trip – and he encourages others to follow his example.

BMW Motorrad Strategy Department