Driving force

| Lisa Kao 1 Feb 2019

The driving style of Lothar Korn is like his experience - dynamic yet careful. The managing director of Audi Hong Kong has climbed the career ladder from advertising, sales and marketing, to management, which has taken him from Germany to Hong Kong.

Cars aren't only a part of his work. They have also played an important role in life.

It was no accident that cars and Korn met - they're almost in his DNA. "For the young me, cars were amazing machines," he said.

With motor-obsessed parents, he was taken to the races as a kid.

"I went to the Touring Car Masters. All the cars there were from established brands all over Germany, and there were race cars that looked like street cars, which was really amazing," he recalled.

Once he reached the legal driving age, Korn couldn't wait to get behind the wheel himself. "The first car I bought was a super down-to-earth Volkswagen three-door car."

He drove a lot since obtaining his driver's license, but wasn't satisfied with owning an ordinary car. "After my second car, the Audi 80 GLS, I got my first brand new car, the VW Golf GTI, using the money I earned from my part-time job while studying," Korn said.

It was his dream car at the time, and he drove it everywhere.

Working with cars was a natural progression from his childhood love. Following an internship with BMW in Munich, "I worked for a full year in the advertising department, assisting photo shoots of car catalogues in the 1980s, before there was internet," he said. "I was interested in what I was doing, and 100 percent confident that my work should be towards that direction."

After university graduation, Korn started working in advertising agencies, but it was not until his third job he started to work for car clients. In 2000, he received a call that brought him closer to the motor industry.

"Mercedes Benz invited me to be the head of advertising," he recalled, describing the opportunity as "like heaven."

His career didn't stop after joining the world renowned brand, but continued with marketing, to sales and marketing, and a regional management position at Audi.

"I enjoy working with cars every day. If you work for coffee or cigarettes, the products are basically the same. But for cars, there are always different kinds, and a lot of new technology always involved," Korn said.

It was exciting for him to work for something he loves - what more for his favorite marque. "Regardless of whether I work for Audi or not, I would still say that Audi is my favorite car brand. It is a progressive brand and fits my lifestyle the best. It is hard to imagine anything better after."

His favorite model? An Audi, naturally - "the latest TT RS with additional performance parts designed by Audi Sport. It has a huge rear wing, and a special sports exhaust system. This is the hottest thing for me."

As a managing director, Korn enjoys the company's events as much as the customers.

"I had a nice experience a couple of years ago with a driving tour in Switzerland. I spent the weekend driving the R8 through the mountains from Switzerland to northern Italy," he said. "It was great. The sound of the engine was like music to my ears."

He also cannot forget the unique experience of driving on a frozen lake in Europe.

"It was amazing, unbelievable and emotional," he exclaimed. "The experience was not about dynamic driving, but being a part of the group, having dinner together, talking about cars. It is a part of our lifestyle."

Having relocated to Hong Kong in 2017, Korn is no longer as close to the driving experiences like he was in Europe, but he still fell in love with the uniqueness of the SAR.

"You can see big differences between the city and the countryside," Korn said. "Visiting Tai O makes you imagine that you are in Vietnam or Cambodia instead of Hong Kong."

The convenience of traveling to Asian countries was also deeply attractive to the European. "Asia offers a variety of cultures, food and religion, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity," he said.

Since working for more than a year in Hong Kong, he has been to a lot of destinations with his family: Cambodia, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam and cities in China.

"I would say my favorite is Bali, a super peaceful place. Whenever we visit Indonesia, we always end up in Bali."

Even on his vacations, cars also play an important role. "We always enjoy driving to travel, and are always mobile when looking around the places we visited," he said.

Just like his father, Korn's son is also a huge fan of cars. "When he was only three, he said he wanted to come with daddy to do a test drive in the Audi R8 GT special edition."

His child was put in the kids' bucket seat, which happened to fit well in the sports seat of the car. "It looked incredible," Korn recalled.

Now 12, his son has also been lucky enough to have met some legendary race drivers. "Since he has a daddy in the car industry, he has shaken hands with Audi legends like Tom Kristensen," Korn said.

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