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Zetsche, The Man Who Will Earn N1.4 Million Daily In Retirement

Not many people have had influence in the global automotive industry as Dieter Zetsche.

For 13 years, he was the chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz, which is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.

Once named on the TIME magazine’s list of 100 most influential people, Zetsche, 66, is credited with bringing significant core changes to the Mercedes-Benz company and successfully running a brand with an annual turnover of £150bn and workforce of 300,000.

On May 22, 2019, he retired as the German automaker’s CEO, having run one of the largest and most important companies in the automotive industry.

As a former chairman of Daimler, Zetsche will get an annual pension package of €1.55m (N521m) starting from 2020, the company has said.

This implies that he will get around €4,250 (N1.4m) per day.

Until now, a former head of Volkswagen AG, Martin Winterkorn – who stepped down in 2015 following the company’s diesel emissions scandal – held the title for having the highest pension package of about €3,100 (N1m) per day, in Germany.

The man with the white walrus moustache

Zetsche was famous for his white walrus moustache and shunning ties more than anything else – even at the company’s corporate events.

He was born in Turkey while his civil engineer father, Herbert Zetsche, temporarily relocated there for a dam construction project. The family later returned to Germany when Dieter was three years old.

Zetsche graduated as an electrical engineer from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1976 and completed his doctorate in engineering in 1982 at the University of Paderborn, also in Germany.

He joined Daimler-Benz in 1976, working in the firm’s research department. In 1981, he was promoted to an Assistant Development Manager.

He became a member of the Daimler Chrysler’s Board of Management in 1998 and served as the President/CEO of the Chrysler Group from mid-2000 to December 31, 2005, where he was credited with a turnaround of DCX’s American operations.

Zetsche was appointed as chairman of Daimler AG on January 1, 2006 and was the main influence behind the demerger of Daimler and Chrysler in 2007, which ended in the newly formed Daimler AG.

He received €14.4m (N4.8bn) in pay and bonuses in 2014, making him the second-highest paid employee at a listed German company.

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Zetsche as an ingenious CEO

While Zetsche was still in the US heading the Chrysler Group, he was famously called Dr Z. He was regarded as a friendly CEO who would answer all and any questions. It was said that not many knew he was actually the boss.

When he was named the Daimler AG head in 2006, he ran the Mercedes car division himself. There he was able to introduce an entirely new design for the brand. These efforts were a great success and impressed buyers around the globe. As an engineer, he also gave a lot of attention to how the cars ran and improved quality and customer satisfaction.

However, it was said that one thing Zetsche was not able to do while he headed Daimler AG was to save the high-end Maybach division.

Revived in 2002, the brand was supposed to be the ultimate in driving luxury and compete with other high-end brands like Rolls Royce. In the end, only around 3,000 Maybachs were sold and the last one was made in December 2012.

Today, Mercedes makes its own Maybach-branded car, but it is just a beefed-up S-Class. It is said this is why most Maybachs look like the S-Classes.

Be that as it may, Zetsche is said to have left a legacy at Daimler AG.

Asked in a recent interview by Top Gear, a British motoring magazine, what had been the best part of his career, he answered, “The products and technology. I liked to spend two hours a week in the design studio and do test drives. My original motivation was that I like to create things and have an influence on things. Obviously, you have more influence as CEO than as the guy sitting at the gatehouse.”

He added that as a leader, he wanted to be shaped, not to shape things.

He said, “I like to go round the globe and talk with people who have insight and get different perspectives. My family have become more open-minded, a global family.

“You have a lot of potential for personal growth through a job like this. But it comes with responsibilities, challenges, setbacks and pressures. It doesn’t come for free.”

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Speaking on particular regrets and setbacks in his career, he said, “Of course, the financial crisis, the necessity to sell Chrysler when I had originally been part of the vote for the merger.

“Of course, when you’re standing in the sunshine, it’s nice, but when you’ve been through the storm, that’s when you grow and you learn.”

 After retirement

Zetsche is not the type of person to rest. Just a few days after retiring from Daimler AG, he was named as the chairman of Tourism Union International AG, popularly known as TUI AG.

TUI AG is an Anglo-German travel and tourism company headquartered in Hannover, Germany. It is described to be the largest leisure, travel and tourism company in the world. It owns travel agencies, hotels, airlines, cruise ships and retail stores.

The group is said to own six European airlines, the largest holiday fleet in Europe and several tour operators in Europe.

Meanwhile, Zetsche was highly celebrated in the automotive industry as he retired from Daimler AG in May, to the extent that one of the company’s biggest rivals, BMW, released an emotional video documenting his last day at work.

In a short clip published on YouTube, the video showed Zetsche saying goodbye to his colleagues, handing in his badge and going home by a chauffeured black S-Class.

As he got home, the garage door opened to uncover a vintage Mercedes-Benz car, but went out for a ride in a BMW i8 Roadster. At the end of the tribute video, BMW thanked Zetsche for his work.

“Thank you, Dieter Zetsche, for so many years of inspiring competition,” BMW said in the video.

Of course, Mercedes quickly reacted with a cheeky response to the video on Twitter and suggested that Zetsche was going for an all-electric EQ model from Mercedes, instead of BMW’s open-top hybrid sports car.

Meanwhile, as Zetsche retired from Daimler AG, the company’s then-head of product development, Ola Källenius, was named to replace him.

Källenius is a 50-year-old Swedish who is a strong advocate of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

Net worth and house

Zetsche is reportedly worth $4bn and lives in an expansive mansion in Stuttgart, the capital and largest city of Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

Source: Punch

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