Mini's happy return: Stefanie Wurst on electrifying a legend

She’s comfortable with the size of the new Countryman – a car she uses herself as a daily driver – and “everyone seems to have a place where they think it fits well in their environment” in all the countries in which she has shown it so far.

Wurst is obviously fond of Oxford and enjoys visiting the factory. “I find it a very emotional place because people clearly feel very emotional about working there,” she says. “It’s a tradition for the brand as well and I want to honour that and make people feel how important it is to me.”

On the decision to secure the investment in its future, Wurst says “it was not difficult” to convince BMW bosses to do so. “I don’t know any board member that doesn’t find it important and many of them have worked in the UK.”

In her daily work, Wurst likes being with “people who not only ask the right questions but then really work to find the right answers. You need people who are highly intelligent but also down to earth.” 

To that end, she believes “inconvenient people make a good team” and while “I can be bossy, this is not my preferred leadership style: that is sitting around a table, discussing and a solution naturally comes up”.

Much of Wurst’s time has been spent launching products to dealers and the likes of Autocar and this conversation with her took place at the Beijing motor show, the day after she unveiled the new Aceman hatchback to the world at an event with around 800 largely Chinese media, dealers and investors – setting the brand up for what is the fourth-generation Mini range created under BMW. 

Setting up the brand will be Wurst’s final act for Mini. A few days after our chat, it was announced that she will be leaving the brand at the end of July, to be succeeded by BMW’s current corporate strategy boss, Stefan Richmann. 

Wurst will stay within the BMW Group, moving onto even bigger and better things, and our desire to give her this award is unwavering off the back of her remarkable achievements during her time at Mini.

Wurst’s own guardianship of Mini may have been short-lived, but her impact on the brand’s 65-year history will be felt for many years to come.

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