Carl Hahn – Keynote Speaker

Former Chairman of Volkswagen & Continental. One of Europe's premier industrialists.

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Carl Hahn Profile Picture

Specialist Subjects

  • Automotive Industry
  • Business Strategy
  • Leadership


  • German


Prof. Carl Hahn is one of the most distinguished and respected industrialists and business motivational speakers in Europe, having been Chairman of both Continental AG (tyre manufacturers) and Volkswagen AG.

He studied business administration at the Universities of Cologne, Zurich, and economics at the University of Bristol. He received the “Certificat d’Etudes Politiques” from the University of Paris. He received his Ph.D from the University of Bern and began his career in 1953 at the OECD in Paris.

In 1954 Prof. Hahn began his career at Volkswagen as Head of Exports. In 1959 he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen of America Inc. He held this position until 1964, when he was appointed to the Main Board of Volkswagen AG. During this time the company revived its fortunes with the development of the Golf, creating a completely new sector in the car market, the hatchback. The Golf is one of the most successful cars ever built.

In March 1973 he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Continental AG in Hannover.

In 1982 Prof. Hahn returned to Volkswagen AG as Chairman of the Board, a position he held until 1992.Under his chairmanship the VW Group became market leader in Europe, also acquiring SEAT in Spain, SKODA in the Czech Republic and establishing VW´s leadership position in the People’s Republic of China.

After his retirement in 1992 he served on the Supervisory Boards of numerous companies in Europe and the US.

Besides being Honorary Chairman of Audi, Skoda and Seat, today Prof. Hahn is Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Reykjavik Geothermal/Iceland. He is Professor for “Industrial Corporate Strategy” at the University of Saxony at Zwickau as well as a member of the Lauder Institute of Management – Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania – and of the International Council of the Salk Institute, California. In 1999 he was elected as one of Corporate America’s Outstanding Directors.

Prof. Hahn still keeps in regular contact with the automotive industry. In 2008, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the opening-up and reform policy the People’s Republic of China adopted in 1978, he was awarded Luminary in China’s Automotive Industry for his outstanding contributions to the development of China´s automotive industry.

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