Companies have two options when coming up with succession plans – hire within, or go outside its ranks. Either choice comes with advantages and disadvantages, to be sure. Hiring within means generally getting someone familiar with the company and its culture and traditions, while going outside is ideal if you're looking to shake things up and bring in fresh ideas.

It's unclear which avenue the Volkswagen Group will go down when it comes time to replace its head man, Herr Professor Doctor Doctor Herr Martin Winterkorn, but he isn't ruling out a trip outside of Wolfsburg. Winterkorn has already given the reins of the VW brand to former BMW board member Herbert Diess, while Andreas Renschler, a former Daimler board member, is heading up VW's truck group.

Now, Winterkorn has made some statements to a German weekly that indicate the most important thing about his successor isn't necessarily his (or her, though no women appear to be on the short-list) previous employer, Motoring.com.au is reporting, so much as his qualities as a leader and an engineering background.

"A Volkswagen boss has to have a big affinity to our products. He needs to be close to customers and he needs to have a relationship with dealers," Winterkorn told Stern. "Like always, it depends on the personality and it also helps if the candidate is an engineer."

Motoring throws out a couple of potential candidates from within, including Porsche boss Mathias Müller, Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler and engineering guru Ulrich Hackenberg, in addition to both Diess and Renschler. And while each candidate has a lot of potential, the only thing that's guaranteed right now is what Winterkorn has already said:

"The decision about who will succeed me is not an easy one for the supervisory board."

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