Q&A: Jim McDowell

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Jim McDowell, BMW of North America's VP-marketing, moved last week to oversee sales and marketing for sibling Mini USA.

AA: What's the upside to moving to a much smaller brand? Will some see it as a demotion?

Mr. McDowell: I've always wanted to try running my own little business. Mini has its own profit-and-loss statement, so the job broadens my skill set.

AA: How far do you drive to work?

Mr. McDowell: I drive six miles each way on a two-lane, windy road that goes alongside a river and has three stop signs. I could drive a more direct route, but I go this way on purpose.

AA: What's your proudest professional accomplishment?

Mr. McDowell: Having such longevity with this position and with my wife. Our 25-year anniversary is April 19.

AA: Your biggest gaffe?

Mr. McDowell: I can't say this was the biggest, but when we launched the Z3 roadster, our biggest single investment was "The Go Video." How did we think a videotape would be effective?

AA: What are the best and worst changes in the ad world during your 12-year tenure?

Mr. McDowell: I'm not sure there's been any bad changes. Our company always looks at changes as opportunities.

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