PORSCHE ASIA PACIFIC
ARTHUR Willmann is one of the few people who can say that their job is the one they were destined for since birth.
Born and raised in Stuttgart, the 35-year-old German recalls riding in his parents’ car and passing the Porsche factory on many occasions. His parents even explained what the conveying bridge that connects Plant 2 to Plant 5 is for.
Looking back on it now, Arthur says that the fact that his childhood home was closer to Porsche than to the other Stuttgart-based carmaker (Mercedes-Benz) was perhaps a hint of things to come.
Arthur first worked at Porsche as an intern in 2005. At the time, he was still a student at the University of Hohenheim, where he studied business administration and economics.
After graduating, he joined Porsche’s Digital Marketing department in 2007 and stayed there for four years. During that period, Arthur was part of the team that created the Porsche Facebook page, the first official one from a car manufacturer.
From 2011 to 2014, Arthur worked as the marketing manager for Overseas and Emerging Markets. Following that, he had a three-year stint as Porsche’s director for Asia Pacific, Japan, Australia and South Korea.
Arthur chats with Torque about what he wants to achieve at Porsche Asia Pacific, the carmaker’s move to Formula E, and why he thinks the brand will always be known as a sports car manufacturer.
Did your past work experience make you a natural fit for this role?
It definitely played a part, but it is also natural progression.
Some people asked if I “planned” this career, but I didn’t. Porsche gave me opportunities that I’m truly grateful for, and in so doing, I managed to find a career path where I could contribute back to the brand.
My experience with digital marketing was one of the key points. Porsche knew that digital was the future, so I had larger and more important projects under my purview as time went by, and one thing led to another.
You must have friends who are Porsche fans. Back then, how did they react to you getting an internship?
I felt that Porsche gave me a chance, even though I was inexperienced. That is how the company works – it wants young talent, and people will get appreciated if they perform.
My friends think that it’s difficult getting into Porsche, and while it’s true that there are fewer vacancies than there are applicants, Porsche identifies with people who have passion. If you have that, there is always a chance.
Did you work on anything significant during your internship at Porsche?
I helped with the redesign of the Porsche website. We also worked on improving the user experience. That even involved tracking where the test subjects would look on the site.
We redesigned the website and received feedback on a huge improvement in customer experience.
Was this project the toughest challenge for you back then as a Porsche intern?
No, but it was definitely fun! We weren’t concerned about it not working out. That experience told me that this was the company I wanted to work for.
The way the team interacted, their approach to solving problems and challenging the status quo – it was compelling and inspiring.
If there was only one classic Porsche model Arthur could own, it would be the 904 Carrera GTS.
What do you want to achieve at Porsche Asia Pacific?
The automotive industry is rapidly changing. It is becoming more digitised, connected and electrified.
Meeting and exceeding customer expectations and experiences in the different markets we handle while managing this transition – these are quite interesting tasks and targets.
Do you think that the popularity of the Macan, Cayenne and Panamera models might eclipse that of Porsche’s sports cars?
Each of our models is the sports car of their respective segments. They serve their own purpose and I don’t think they eclipse one another at all. On the contrary, having such a model range allows us to produce the best sports cars in the world, like the new 911 GT3 RS.
What would you like to have in the next-generation 911?
I can’t say what I want, because I have seen the engineers working on the next model. Let’s just say that there are a lot of interesting things to come! [Laughs]
Porsche is going into Formula E – is this part of the electrification drive?
Absolutely. For us, the idea is to bring technology from the racetrack to the road. In Formula E, this would be sustainability, efficiency and, obviously, performance. We compete to show what we’re capable of.
Personally, were you still hoping that there would be a Porsche LMP1 team in WEC?
I think the decision to move to Formula E is the right one. Porsche is still a small company. All the efforts need to be focused on one major racing series.
Porsche has won Le Mans so many times. It is time for a new challenge. We’re still competing in the GTE classes and just won both of them this year at Le Mans.
I MANAGED TO FIND A CAREER PATH WHERE I COULD CONTRIBUTE BACK TO PORSCHE.