Annette Winkler

The Smart Way to the Board Room

Annette Winkler Reuters
Annette Winkler may join CEO Dieter Zetsche on Daimler's executive board.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Successful manager Annette Winkler could join Daimler’s executive board and help lead the German luxury carmaker.

  • Facts


    • Annette Winkler has made the Smart car brand profitable after many years in the red.
    • In the first half of 2015, worldwide sales of Smart cars climbed by about 33 percent to over 62,000 vehicles.
    • Smart makes a variety of microcars and subcompacts designed primarily for urban driving.
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At the Shanghai Motor Show, Smart Automobile boss Annette Winkler drove a Smart Fortwo ultra-subcompact car onto the stage and screeched to a halt. She then hopped out of the ultra-subcompact car and did a little dance.

The two-seater is supposed to stand for agility, joy and cleverness, according to Smart’s ad campaign. All of those qualities also apply to Ms. Winkler, 55.

The chief executive’s goal at the Shanghai event in April was to entice Chinese people to embrace the cute little car made by the Smart division of Stuttgart-based Daimler, which is known for its luxury car brand Mercedes.

At the Shanghai Motor Show Ms. Winkler used her hands and feet and, ignoring the teleprompter, delivered a fast-paced speech that seemed to flow without commas or periods. Her appearance lasted two minutes. None of it seemed rehearsed, not even the sentences in Chinese that her advisors had worked into her speech.

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