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CEO Spotlight: Joerg Weisgerber of HELLA

Joerg Weisgerber is the chief executive officer of HELLA Electronics North and South America. MICHauto had the chance to speak with Weisgerber and hear more about his leadership style and risk management techniques.

What would you tell young professionals about our automotive industry to keep them in Michigan?

Working in the automotive industry means you get to push the boundaries of today’s technologies for tomorrow. Whether it is writing code for a self-driving car or designing a new headlamp that adapts to live road conditions, we are creating new experiences that millions of people will use. Detroit is known as the heart of the auto industry, but this industry is not just one city or even one state. We are part of a global industry providing access to many cultures, languages, and unique travel opportunities for work.

When is it okay to encourage risk among your team? 

The foundation of automotive is innovation. Within automotive we are continuously pushing the limits and creating new and exciting products. My role as a manager is to balance the risks for creative solutions with delivering on what we promised the customer. To do this, you must set up an atmosphere where it is okay to take risks and fail. Without teams taking risks, you would not have a car that can drive mostly by itself. Encouraging our employees to take risks, allows them to be inspired, passionate, and work at the highest level.

What are the most important attributes of successful leaders today?

Leadership is about getting your employees to want to follow you versus just follow your orders because you have the bigger office. First and foremost, you must be true to who you are. Additionally, I have found that acting quickly, open communication, and giving employees room to do their jobs has been the most successful in my career. Having this mindset has allowed for an environment to be lived at HELLA that is always achieving. But things do not always go right; and having the open dialogue and relationships within the team allows us to tackle issues quickly, decisively, and most importantly economically.

Where is your favorite vacation spot and why?

When I was younger it was the city of Barcelona in Spain. The great culture and history come together to build in a vibrance to the city that is rarely seen. You can experience the old-world spirit and as well as the modern metropolitan flair at the same time. Today, Greece has taken over as my favorite place to visit when I am able to. Mostly, I enjoy my time on the smaller islands that are a bit less popular tourist locations. (Kos is my favorite at this time). You can find the grounding feeling of bare rocky land, and the sea access from wherever you go combined with steady wind to freshen up the warm air. The tastes from this region are authentically fresh, with olive-based cuisine combined with local light but fruitful white wines.