Professor Dr. Burkhard Welkener retires

Professor Dr. Burkhard Welkener, Managing Director of Volkswagen Motor Polska, Polkowice, officially retired on Wednesday at a ceremony in the presence of Dr. Folker Weißgerber, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG. The event was attended by numerous guests from industry and politics, including the Marshall of the Lower Silesia Region, Henryk Golebiewski; the German Consul in Breslau, Horst Siffrin; and the Mayor of the district of Polkowice, Emilian Stanczyszyn. Managers from several of Volkswagen’s European plants also travelled to Poland for the occasion.

Welkener served the Volkswagen Group for 36 years. In his tribute, Dr. Weißgerber praised Welkener for his outstanding achievements in a variety of management positions in Germany and abroad: “He contributed to the success of Volkswagen on three continents and met every challenge, no matter how great. His paternal mentor’s role and his close contacts to the workforce meant he was always able to motivate his teams to produce excellent results. It is thanks to him that the Polkowice factory has become the best engine plant in the Group.”

Professor Welkener first studied mechanical engineering at Braunschweig Technical University, graduating in 1965. He then went on to study economics at Aachen University of Technology, graduating as an industrial engineer in 1969. He was subsequently awarded a doctorate in business administration and economics from the University of Gießen.

Welkener began his career at Volkswagen in 1968 as an unpaid trainee. Initially, he was involved in the planning of chassis parts, grey iron castings and body parts. He was assistant to the Board member for production and quality control between 1970 – 1972, and became a head of department in April 1973. As head of production coordination, he held various responsibilities in production control and preparations as well as plant utilisation until 1976. In 1977 he became head of controlling in the production division and took over as head of the central production control division in 1980. In January 1980, Welkener was appointed to the company’s top management. From 1981 to 1988 he was head of the executive organisation and systems division; in this capacity he was responsible for the worldwide organisational structure of the Group, for procedure and systems coordination and for all Volkswagen AG computer centres.

In August 1988 Welkener moved to Shanghai Volkswagen where he became Deputy Chairman of the Board. In 1991 Welkener returned to Germany, initially holding the post of Managing Director of Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH, Mosel, and subsequently being appointed Head of the Volkswagen Braunschweig plant at the beginning of 1992.

In 1996 Welkener again returned to the international stage, becoming Technical Director at Volkswagen of South Africa in Uitenhage. In March 1998, the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG commissioned him to set up the Volkswagen Motor Polska engine facility in Polkowice, where he became the Managing Director in January 1999.

Welkener has received numerous accolades, including the Bronze Shanghai Magnolia Award presented by the city’s administration, and honours from the Universities of Shanghai, Magdeburg and Breslau. Welkener is Honorary Professor of Tongji University, Shanghai, and Honorary Citizen of the city of Polkowice.

Professor Welkener’s successor as Managing Director of Volkswagen Motor Polska with effect from 1 January 2004 is Andreas Klinge.

Klinge was born in 1958. He first completed an apprenticeship as an electrician before studying energy technology at night school. His career with Volkswagen began in Salzgitter in 1986, where his diverse responsibilities included the management of cylinder head production as well as other departments and the post of assistant to the plant management. He became head of production at Salzgitter in November 2002.

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