As the new CEO of BMW Group South Africa, Peter van Binsbergen’s job is most certainly demanding. It’s after hours though that he refuels with coffee, mountain biking and electric bass guitar. We took the opportunity to ask him about his passions and pastimes outside of the office.
I collect 1:18 scale model cars and have all my dream cars in a cabinet.
– Peter van Binsbergen
Where do you feel most at home?
Definitely here in South Africa. Probably in the Cape where I grew up—I love the sea and the mountains, ideally combined with a sport like mountain-biking or surfing.
Do you have any collections?
I tried collecting cars, but with all the moving for my job, this turned out to be a bad idea. So now I collect 1:18 scale model cars and have all my dream cars in a cabinet, which is easier each time you move. I do however have a personal car and motorcycle, despite having a company car: these are a MINI GP3 and a BMW R18. I also collect DVDs with motor-racing stories, for example, Le Mans ’66, and am building on my vinyl collection.
Do you have a favourite artwork in your house?
Yes, it’s a sculpture: my BMW R18 (laughing), only joking. Indeed, my wife and I love art involving human faces, so we have a few interpretations, in the ‘impressionistic style’, done by a Chinese artist. I really like these because for me, life is all about people and the richness of diversity.
What causes are close to your heart?
Anything to do with protecting vulnerable members of our society, in particular children. The responsibility that God has given us, and the resulting trust that children have in adults, is something very special for me and should be protected at all costs.
I like to watch any sport where South Africa is playing at international level; this kept me connected through the 18 years I was away from home.
– Peter van Binsbergen
What’s the book on your bedside table?
Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. I have read his book Sapiens and found this such a thrilling read, so I had to get Homo Deus.
What’s a book or film that has shaped you?
I can’t really say that one single book or film has shaped me. However, I can recommend To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, The Words of My Father by Yousef Bashir, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and anything by PJ O’Rourke or Douglas Adams. These books all left an impression on me.
What bands or songs did you grow up listening to?
Anything ’80s. However, I like really diverse music, from Bob Marley through to ZZ Top, Journey, UB40, Queen, the Police and Nigel Kennedy (google him if you don’t know him). But don’t forget Stanley Clarke: I saw him live at the Blue Note in Tokyo and have been trying to learn to play the electric bass ever since!
Do you play or watch sports?
I used to watch a lot of motorsport, when it was still a sport. I like to watch any sport where South Africa is playing at international level; this kept me connected through the 18 years I was away from home. I also enjoy watching soccer when Holland is playing. My wife and I love watching tennis and golf live. When it comes to playing sports, I have tried out a lot including paragliding, windsurfing, surfing, soccer, cycling and golf. At present I am most active in mountain biking: I just completed the Sani2C.
I’m not a very good cook; ask my wife and children!
– Peter van Binsbergen
Do you have any creative outlets?
I’m an engineer, so I am better with numbers than classical creative pastimes. However, I am slowly trying to learn to play the electric bass guitar. I also am a hobby barista, which I classify as creative: since I love coffee, it’s a useful creative outlet!
Do you have a signature dish that you cook?
I’m not a very good cook; ask my wife and children! That’s mainly due to lack of creativity because if you give me a recipe, the result is edible. My favourite dish, which I can cook (with a recipe), is cheese souffle, enjoyed with a side of broccoli and a salad.
What is your vision for the BMW brand in South Africa?
We have a very strong brand here in South Africa, so my objective for the next few years would be to build on this strength and future-proof our brand. This means increasing our sales on the one hand whilst taking our brand into the future. I would like to address two key issues, namely, a stronger recognition of the diversity which is South Africa and a strong focus on the future, for example, through our broad electrification drive. Watch this space!