Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt

VW's New White Knight

Former high court judge Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt has an excellent reputation in the German auto industry. Source: DPA
Former high court judge Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt has an excellent reputation in the German auto industry.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    In the wake of the diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen needs to radically overhaul its corporate culture.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt will be the first woman on Volkswagen’s management board, appointed to clean up its tainted corporate culture.
    • She has already done the same at rival carmaker Daimler, where she sucessfully headed the company’s integrity and legal affairs unit after a bribery scandal.
    • Last month’s emergence of VW’s diesel emissions manipulation has hurt its reputation and may cost tens of billions of euros.
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  • Audio

    Audio

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When staff at German carmaker Daimler open their laptops these days, they might be confronted with monsters. Legions of dark figures cooking the books, dealing in murky business and endangering the company with their deeds. It’s a computer game, and thousands of employees have already played it with great enthusiasm, says Daimler’s integrity and legal affairs department.

The game to encourage corporate ethics has been a neat little success for unit leader Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt. And achievements like these are part of why she is leaving the Daimler board of management for a similar position at Volkswagen in January.

At VW, she will oversee the response to the emissions scandal that has plunged the car manufacturer into the worst crisis in its history. The automaker has admitted to falsifying diesel emissions results for 11 million autos to circumvent U.S. regulations. Not only has the scandal severely damaged its reputation, it may also cost up to €40 billion, or $45.7 billion, in fines and recall costs.

Ms. Hohmann-Dennhardt, who has an excellent reputation in the German car industry, will be the first woman on Volkswagen’s management board, as she was at Daimler. Her task will be turning an entire corporate culture on its head, and she will have wide-ranging powers to get it done.

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