Jim McDowell is the kind of guy you hope to sit next to on a plane during a long flight. The head of BMW's Mini USA unit has a lively personality and an infectious laugh — and he is an optimist.
He has an advanced degree from Harvard and a long list of business credentials, but he wears Hawaiian shirts to the office. He takes his wife along for Mini driving events. And though he could have a $100,000-plus BMW as his company car, McDowell won't give up his Mini convertible.
Name: Jim McDowell
Title: Vice president, Mini USA
Personal: Married with three adult children
Lives: Upper Saddle River, N.J.
Works: Woodcliff Lake, N.J.
Education: Bachelor of arts, Colorado College; master's in public policy, Harvard University
Big break: Joining the auto industry in 1985 as corporate planner for Jack Cook, CEO of Porsche Cars North America. "I had been working as a corporate planner but never alongside the CEO in such a fun industry. It hooked me on great German cars and also showed how much fun the car industry could be."