Ian Robertson has left his position as Member of the Board of Management at the BMW Group. He’s left behind a lasting memory of an incredibly successful career, one that started at Austin Morris and ended up at BMW. Throughout that time, Robertson helped bring the Land Rover Freelander to market by getting BMW in on it, while also being instrumental in the revival of Rolls Royce and the creation of BMW’s i Division. So he’s had an incredibly impressive career and one that’s had a massive impact on the auto industry.
To honor Robertson at the Autocar Awards, he was given the Autocar Lifetime Achievement Award. “Our first Lifetime Achievement award celebrates the 39-year career of Ian Robertson. Having started as an apprentice at Austin Morris, Robertson rose to the board of the BMW Group, making him the most high-profile Brit in the global automotive industry.” said Autocar.
“Robertson led Land Rover under early BMW ownership, rebuilt Rolls-Royce’s reputation and helped spearhead the expansion of the Mini range and the launch of BMW’s electrified i brand.”
It’s also fitting that Robertson wins this award, as the Rolls Royce Phantom has just received Autocar’s prestigious “Five Star” award, of which only one other car received. So the fact that the Phantom wins such an award at the same time Robertson gets his own is wonderfully ironic, considering Roberston is the one that helped bring the Rolls Royce brand back from the dead.
Not only was Robertson recognized by the auto industry but he was also close with the great Nelson Mandela. During his time with BMW South Africa, he met Mandela and the two became good friends.
“Back then there was a feeling in the country that anything was possible,” Robertson told Auto Express awhile back. “Nelson Mandela had been in power for three or four years – he was an icon. Just when I started I was taken to a dinner of business leaders to celebrate Mandela’s birthday – and he was coming. I’m thinking ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ and sure enough I was introduced to him.”
I’m sure a lot of business men and women had met Mandela during his life. However, it shows the character of Robertson that the two actually became friends. “I had many times when I just had a cup of tea with him and he’s such a wise guy. Considering his difficult time in prison and oppression and apartheid, he was so optimistic and looking forward.” he told AE.
Ian Robertson has done a tremendous amount for the auto industry as a whole and has done it with class. So it’s no surprise that he gets Autocar’s Lifetime Achievement award and it’s well deserved.