Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Meet Lamborghini's big boss

No car boss is more suave than Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann. As the elevator decants him onto the rooftop of our central Bologna hotel location, the aura is palpable. In a role that requires being both boffin and bean-counter, it's fitting that the boss of the world's most reliably extreme super sports car company appears to be so calculatedly cool. The shoes, suit and sideburns are all sharp.

But he's also a survivor. He'll have piloted Lamborghini for a decade come 2015, adding volume and quality to a previously wayward brand while riding the vicissitudes of the darkest economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Not to mention the equally volatile internal politics of its Volkswagen Group parent. Revenues in 2013 topped £404 million, up from £369 million the previous year, with further growth expected this year as the Hurac├ín gets off to a flying start. With the cicadas chirping and church bells clanging, we take our seats. Some background first. Winkelmann served as a paratrooper in the German army. He also worked for 11 years in the Fiat Group.
The last film he watched and really enjoyed was American Hustle ("I loved the soundtrack and the performances. Especially the women...") A number of brightly coloured bands decorate his wrists. His favourite Lamborghinis are the Miura Jota and 350GT. He cites Winston Churchill as an influence and enjoys Ernest Hemingway. He is fluent in English, Italian, German and French. He was also recently awarded the Knight Grand Cross by the Italian establishment.
Tellingly, there's little self-aggrandisement. "I received it for Lamborghini," he says. "It's important because it was awarded in recognition of the company and the team, not me."

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