Having started as an intern, Hamid Haqparwar rose through the ranks to become Managing Director of BMW Group Middle East. Responsible for 13 markets across the region and in the near future, the introduction of electric and autonomous driving to the Middle East, he tells us the secrets of his success.
You need to love what you do
If you do not work in a field that you like or are passionate about, then it’s work. If you’re passionate about it, all of a sudden it’s not work anymore, it’s part of your life. The reason why I started at BMW was the product, the brand, the cars. It’s what I love. And most of the discussions we have at home are about cars. I really live that.
If you don’t have a great product then word of mouth won’t help
What we understand is that word of mouth is the number one criteria for a person here in the Middle East to purchase a car. They trust their brother, their sister, their friends sitting in the majles in the evening, more than online research. But if you don’t have a good product, all of that is gone.
My door is always open
I always tell people that as long as my door is open there is no need to knock, just walk in. I learned at a very early stage that communication is key. People want to relate to you, even if it’s just for a coffee or to tell you about their weekend. They want to talk to you. In the beginning I have to say I underestimated that. Coming from a German background you focus on the work. Here in the region that’s not the case and it’s the reason the door is open. BMW is proud of having a flat hierarchy. As the CEO I can go to the interns and ask for feedback and they can do the same.
Be prepared to do what others won’t
I wanted to go where nobody else wanted to. Whether it was topics or coming into sales here in the region where it was very tough and challenging. I went to India where there was no department beforehand and had to build it from the ground up. I was the youngest MD of BMW in the region. If you’re always in the comfort zone, you will not grow. I can really advise anyone who wants to have a fast career in a big company to find a niche and go above and beyond it. You’ll be noticed within the business and by your superiors.
Ask for forgiveness, not permission
It’s a kind of hidden rule in the company. BMW is a very open, very agile, very fast company with quick decision making. BMW will say you’re not a manager, you’re a small entrepreneur, ‘Run the area that you’re responsible for like it’s your own company,’ and that is what fascinated me. You have your boundaries but they are quite wide and within that you have the freedom to do what you want.
But don’t make the same mistake twice
I’ve had to ask for forgiveness many times but the issue is don’t make the same mistake twice. If you do, that’s a no go. But by all means make mistakes. I always tell the new guys to make mistakes. All the young people want to contribute to the bigger picture and we allow them that opportunity. If you work in this way you will make mistakes but that’s ok, just don’t do it twice.
The car industry is in disruptive times. We’ve gone from certainty in the last 100 years to uncertainty for the next ten years. Be it in connected cars, shared economy or autonomous driving. My task is to take these mega trends in driving and introduce them to the region to show customers that BMW is at the forefront of these.