Bart Herring says it was nerve-wracking to stand in front of a group of high-level Mercedes-Benz executives and tell them they needed to increase lease penetration in the U.S.
That was in 2000, after Herring had been given the assignment of balancing the brand's lease portfolio in this country.
He says those meetings early in his career taught him a lesson: Always explain things so that your mother or father could understand. And "if you are the lowest-ranking person in a high-ranking room, that could be a good thing," Herring says.
Indeed, exposure to bigwigs at a young age turned out to be his big break.
"How many people do you know who are working hard in a company and are invisible?" he asks.
These days, Herring has an extremely visible job, leading the product management team that decides the features and configuration of U.S. products.
A certified public accountant, Herring joined Mercedes-Benz Financial as a financial analyst in 1998. He moved to Mercedes-Benz USA two years later and then spent eight years in product management.
He was responsible for the U.S. launch of the previous-generation S-class, CL coupe and C-class models. He was appointed to his current post in 2012.
"We are the largest market in the world, and we can set the stage and the direction for how the products need to be and how we present them in our market," Herring said.
Herring was the product manager when the previous-generation C class was being developed in 2004. His team developed a strategy to make the C class a more dynamic car by introducing a sport model with more aggressive and stylish looks. The three-pointed star insignia was mounted in the front grille.
The model was a big success, and "it influenced the future generation and some of the future design," said Herring. "People want more emotionally styled cars."
-- Diana T. Kurylko