Daimler announced today that it would appoint Ola Källenius as CEO next year to replace the current chief executive Dieter Zetsche. Zetsche will move to the supervisory board in 2021 after a two-year transitional period.
After serving Daimler for 12 years, Dieter Zetsche will step down from his positions on the board of management of the group as well as heading Mercedes-Benz cars. The transition will take effect at the end of the annual shareholders’ meeting in 2019. Daimler’s current chairman, Manfred Bischoff, will recommend Zetsche be elected as his successor at the end of the 2021 annual meeting, according to a statement released by Daimler on Wednesday.
The appointment of Ola Källenius, who is a Swedish national, as the next CEO represents a historic decision by Daimler AG, as Ola will be the first non-German chief executive that the Stuttgart-based automaker will work under.
Ola Källenius was born in Västervik, Sweden. He holds a Master’s degree in “International Management” and “Finance and Accounting” from the Stockholm School of Economics and at the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland). He started his stint with Daimler AG as a trainee with the International Management Associate Program in 1993. Since then, he has steadily been climbing the levels of positions within Daimler AG. Currently, Ola Källenius serves as the Member of Board of Management, Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing and Sales, effective since January 1, 2015. He is also handling Group Research for Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development since January 1, 2017.
Speaking about the recent developments and transitions, Daimler said, “In view of the challenges presented by the transformation of the automotive industry, the supervisory board intends to prepare a suitable succession at an early stage.” Markus Schaefer, currently head of production, will succeed Källenius as head of Research and Development.
Regarding the nomination of Ola Källenius by the supervisory board, Dieter Zetsche had this to say: “In various positions at Daimler, Ola Källenius has earned not only my respect, but also the recognition of his colleagues in very diverse areas. At the same time, he contributes a valuable international perspective. I therefore very much welcome the fact that the Supervisory Board has made this forward-looking personnel decision.”