A passion for all things automotive is part of who you are. Is this how you came to be Product Manager?
From an early age, my interest was piqued with stories of my father having owned a Jaguar XK120 roadster. By the time I could drive, I enjoyed a diverse selection of automobiles—from a big and bellowing Delta 88 to a slow yet nimble Fiat Spider. But while my father spent weekends doing things like installing a Corvette V8 into a ’57 Chevy, I knew that a different automotive calling was in store for me.
After college, I made my way to the MBA program at The College of William and Mary. From the outset, I knew I wanted to be a product manager for a car company where I could steer products in ways that consumers wanted. Once in the industry, I gained experience at several premium European companies and learned to value brands with clearly defined values. So when the coveted position of Product Manager for the Audi A8, S8, A6 and S6 models became an option, I jumped at the chance.
Can you share with us the specific responsibilities of your role at Audi?
AUDI AG will come to us and ask us if we think it would be appropriate to introduce a new model to the existing Audi lineup. We sit down and do an analysis. We do a business case. How many can we sell? How much will they cost? What features should it have? What features are important for our customers? And we have to identify that customer.
I travel to Audi headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, at least four times a year, working firsthand with colleagues at the Audi factory on packages and equipment for current cars or helping prepare for upcoming new Audi models that haven’t yet been seen by the public.
I’ll likely not miss a major auto show this year, including events in France and Switzerland. In between these, I will have to perform all the usual forecasting and detail work required to ensure the A8, A7 and A6 models are perfectly suited to U.S. consumer needs.
The new A8, for example, is perhaps the most important launch for Audi in recent history, demonstrating the brand’s most thorough display of its advanced technology and engineering abilities.
Was there a moment when you realized the new A8 was unlike any other luxury performance vehicle?
I became fully convinced about the new A8 at the wheel of a preproduction test vehicle while testing it in the canyons above Los Angeles. I was astounded at how light on its feet the car was. The Sport DifferentialDifferentialWhen a vehicle turns a corner, the inside wheels cover a shorter distance than those on the outside. Differential helps the car to change direction in a way you really wouldn’t expect a car its size to be able to do. I made sure the differential technology made it to the order list of the new A8 sedan.