Dr. Annette - profile

Dr. Annette Winkler


What is your most memorable moment with the orchestra?
When the Lucerne Festival with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra at its core, conducted by its founder Claudio Abbado at his final concert in Lucerne, concluded Bruckner’s Unfinished Symphony. Within the concert hall, the world came to a standstill and those few seconds became an eternity; the most intense emotions, pain and joy, all at the same time.

What makes a "perfect" concert?
When the musicians reach such a level of perfection that they can liberate themselves from any technical burdens, empowered by the conductor, and let the music fly, taking the audience along.

When and where did you first experience the MCO in concert?
At the Lucerne Festival in 2013.

Why do you support the MCO?
Because I am full of enthusiasm and respect for how the members of this world-class orchestra realize their performances on an extraordinary high level, while being fully dedicated to their ideals, and still preserving their personal freedom and independence of mind. The MCO is a superb and fantastically successful “start up” in the global music scene.

What do you like most about the MCO?
The breathtaking sound, the thrilling perfection that results, the musicians' interactions and struggles for the desired interpretation during rehearsals, their eagerness and courage to experiment, the combination of free-thinking individualists with an obvious enjoyment of close interplay and a sincere team spirit.


Dr. Annette Winkler occupied senior management roles at Daimler AG for 23 years. For a third of this period, she was the CEO of smart.

She started her career in a family-owned construction business, taking over the general management at the age of 24. In 1995 she opened a new chapter of her professional life by joining Daimler AG, where she was first appointed Head of Communications and Public Relations. Later, she moved into the Sales division, eventually becoming CEO of the Mercedes-Benz branch in Braunschweig.

Subsequently she took over the responsibility for Daimler in Belgium and Luxembourg and six years later for the development of the global retail network for Mercedes-Benz. In 2010 she became the CEO of smart with overall responsibility, holding this position until her retirement in 2018.

Since then she has focussed on her non-executive directorships, such as at Air Liquide, on lecturing, and on social and cultural projects.

In 2019, she was appointed to Renault's Board of Directors.