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Jürgen Leohold, 55, Chief Executive Director of Volkswagen Group Research since 2006.

Biggest accomplishment in this job: Seeing Stanley, Volkswagen's (VOWG.DE) autonomous-driving Touareg, installed in a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington. The car, which was wired and programmed by a Stanford University team, won the U.S. Defense Dept.'s 2005 Grand Challenge for driverless vehicles by completing a 130-mile race course through California's Mojave Desert before competitors.

Previous experience: From 1989 to 2002, Leohold held management positions in electric and electronics development at Volkswagen and was responsible for the electronics of the Phaeton luxury sedan, among other projects. In 2002, Leohold resumed his academic career as head of faculty for vehicle systems and fundamentals of electro-technology at the University of Kassel. He returned to Volkswagen as head of the electrics/electronics division in 2005.

Innovation philosophy: "Being innovative, setting trends, and giving shape to the future are important components of the Volkswagen world and our corporate identity. Internally, we promote the creativity needed for this, and we work intensively with universities, institutes, and research organizations worldwide in an effort to meet our own high standards for our products. By innovating, we're able to produce increasingly safer, cleaner, and more intelligent cars."