By Staff Reporter
The resourceful Thomas Schaefer is leaving Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) to join ŠKODA Auto as the new Global CEO effective 3 August 2020.
Schaefer has been the Chairman and Managing Director of VWSA since February 2015. In 2017, his role was expanded to include the responsibility for Sub Saharan Africa as part of Volkswagen’s expansion strategy into the region. Since then, Volkswagen has established its presence in Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana, and has signed Memorandums of Understanding with the governments of Nigeria and Ethiopia.
Under Schaefer’s leadership, VWSA has continued to maintain its dominance in the local passenger car market, with the Polo and Polo Vivo manufactured at the Uitenhage factory as the best-selling passenger models as well as ramping up international exports by 30%.
In 2019, VWSA enjoyed a record year with the Uitenhage factory achieving its highest production volume of 161 954 units and the Volkswagen Brand reporting a record-market share of 20.4%, the highest since 1996.
Schaefer touched our hearts when he refused to stand by and let Covid-19 devastate Port Elizabeth. Being instrumental in many initiatives to stop the spread of Covid-19 and save lives, Schaefer was instrumental in VWSA signing a partnership agreement with the German government to convert its PE Plant into a temporary Covid-19 medical facility. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development supported the setup of the facility and other activities in Nelson Mandela Bay with funding of 5.2 million Euros (R107 million). Once fully operational, the facility could accommodate up to 4 000 beds for patients diagnosed with the Covid-19 virus.
Siyabonga Thomas Schaefer for going above and beyond the call of duty.
Dr Robert Cisek
Schaefer will be succeeded by Dr Robert Cisek (44), who is currently responsible for the Production Strategy of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Brand in Wolfsburg. Dr Cisek holds a doctorate degree in Industrial Management from the Technical University of Munich. He also holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Technical University of Munich. He joined Volkswagen in 2018 from BMW Group. His experience at BMW Group included Head of Industrial Engineering, Head of Press Shop and managing a company-wide performance programme aimed at securing long-term profitability targets.
Dr Cisek has also worked for McKinsey & Company where he served clients in automotive, aerospace and defence, telecommunication and industrial automation on topics such as growth strategy, portfolio optimisation, research and development efficiency and manufacturing excellence.
Schaefer said: “My tenure as the MD of VWSA has been the highlight of my career so far. I am immensely proud to have worked for and led such an impactful and good company. Together with my team, we have moved VWSA forward with outstanding production and sales results which have earned our company recognition locally and abroad.”
Compiled with words from VWSA.
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