Anti-Heroes of Modern Management

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The executives bravely leading two of Germany’s biggest companies through crisis are no ordinary managers, argues the author.

  • Facts


    • John Cryan was named co-CEO of Deutsche Bank in July last year before becoming the sole chief executive in May of this year.
    • Matthias Müller took over as chief executive of the Volkswagen Group in September 2015, after the Dieselgate scandal forced the resignation of his predecessor.
    • Mr. Müller has experienced a series of PR blunders, including controversial statements on Dieselgate and on electric cars.
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Matthias Müller (left) and John Cryan. Source: Getty Images [M]

There are managers who refuse to rest on their laurels — ever ready to seek out the center of a new storm.

John Cryan at Deutsche Bank and Matthias Müller at Volkswagen stand out as examples of this noble trait. If Mr. Cryan had stayed at the Swiss bank UBS, he could have enjoyed the aura of the man who saved the bank after the financial crisis. And if Mr. Müller had remained as head of Porsche, he would be in a comfortable place today, delivering luxury German cars plenty of people would die for.

But both executives clearly like challenges. Mr. Müller is fighting a tough war on several fronts, with some of his key team players abandoning their posts. With his career move, Mr. Cryan doesn’t appear fond of a quiet life. After stepping down as UBS’s chief financial officer and working for a brief stint at a Singapore investment bank, he headed straight into the line of fire last year when he took over co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank. He is now alone at the helm.

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