Willisch is well-known for his passion for the track and we had the chance to see him in action every year at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion where he will compete once again this year with the CSL car. In the video below, Willisch talks about his “double life”, as a business man running one of the largest BMW markets in the world, and as racing aficionado.
“Regardless of whether it’s a vintage or current car, racing is a dynamic sport and running BMW of North America is just as dynamic,” Willisch says. “On the track, you always are facing new obstacles, the car evolves and the driver must be constantly learning and improving. Same for the CEO—constantly finding new ways to improve the business and staying focused on the goal, which is to win!”
Furthermore, he talks about team spirit and dedicated needed to achieve a goal.
“Just as important is keeping the team together and focused,” Willisch says. “In a race, it is the driver who crosses the finish line and gets the trophy. But the driver isn’t the only one responsible for the win. The team is crucial in overcoming obstacles and making the win possible. It’s the team who keep the car on the road and who must respond when thing don’t go according to plan. A good leader, like the best driver, knows he is never alone and all success is shared.”
The 54-year-old German replaced Jim O’Donnell in 2011. In the BMW community, Willisch is also known as former CEO of BMW M. He began his BMW career in 1996 as head of the sales office in Duesseldorf, Germany. Later in his career, he was responsible for sales subsidiaries around the world, including the European sales outside of Germany.