Bob Ingram began his career in the pharmaceutical industry as a professional sales representative, advancing and earning increasing responsibility to ultimately become CEO/Chairman of GlaxoWellcome. He co-led the merger and integration that formed GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s second largest pharmaceutical company. In 2007 he joined Hatteras Venture Partners, a venture capital firm that invests in early stage life science companies. He serves as lead director or board member on numerous corporations, institutes, research centers, and foundations.
Bob has been a car guy since the days when he rode his bicycle past auto dealerships to see the new models each September. A trip to the Monterey Historic Automobile Races in 1998 inspired the collection that he and his wife Jeanie have assembled, tracing Porsche’s sports car history through distinctive and often unique examples of their road going automobiles.
Road Scholars Magazine spoke with him at his collection in North Carolina in December 2014.
Road Scholars Magazine: What have you done to your collection most recently and why?
Ingram: Our most recent addition to our collection is the new Porsche 918 Spyder. It is the latest version of Porsche’s supercar offerings, a real hyper car, if you will. It complements our 1988 Typ 959 and our 2005 Carrera GT as the highest form of auto engineering in their time. Its hybrid power is a remarkable advance in technology. We ordered the car in Viola Metallic which matches our 993 Turbo S that’s painted in the same color. I think it turned out very well.
RSM: What is the most interesting car you’ve seen lately – modern or old, yours or someone else’s and why?
Ingram: I think there’s no coincidence that the Porsche 918 comes out as Ferrari introduces their “La Ferrari” and McLaren introduces the “P1”. They’re each hybrid-powered cars. They each are halo cars, flagships for their manufacturers. I think we’ll eventually see 2014 and 2015 as the launch point for this new technology at the highest end of the automobile market. Just as we look back on 1986, ’87, and ’88, and consider Porsche’s 959 as groundbreaking for its time, I suspect we’ll look back on the 918 and this period in 25 years or so and see that this was groundbreaking as well.
RSM: Whose collection have you seen that you admire most and why?
Ingram: There are a couple. I really admire Miles Collier for putting together a multi-marque collection of incredibly significant cars. The passion Miles has for automotive engineering and design excellence, the knowledge that he possesses not only about the history of cars in general but the background, the provenance, the importance of each car in his collection. And the way he has devoted so much time, energy, and influence in putting together the REVS Institute.
The other is Peter Mullin’s collection. I admire Peter not only for putting together a magnificent collection of French cars, but also for the setting he’s created! If you are at all a fan of the Art Deco period, that was and remains his inspiration for the museum and the collection. He currently has an exhibition of art works of the Bugatti family – not just Ettore’s cars but sculpture, furniture, and painting by other family members. The way he has displayed the “Bugatti in the lake” is so fascinating. – he’s shown equally amazing Voisin automobiles and he has Delahayes and Talbots and Delages as well.
One other one I’d mention is Ranson Webster who also concentrates on Porsche cars like we do, but we don’t mirror each other. He is interested mostly in Porsche’s racing history and he uses them in vintage and historic races. He has some road-going cars but mostly those were used for racing purposes. We have some racecars in our collection but they all are street legal. So Ranson’s collection is a real counter point to what we have.
RSM: You travel a lot. After all the places you have visited, is there anywhere you haven’t been that you want to see? And why?
Ingram: I think about this. I have been fortunate to travel extensively. But I would like to visit the Patagonia region of Argentina. I’ve been to Buenos Aires but I’ve never been to Patagonia. I’ve talked to people who have and they all marvel at the vastness of the geography, that it’s largely unspoiled. It is sparsely populated, has Andes Mountains as well as deserts and grasslands.
RSM: What’s the last book you read? And what did you think if it?
Ingram: I’ve read and reread Leadership is an Art, by Max DePree. He was CEO of Herman Miller office furniture. He’s taught me that one of a leader’s responsibilities is to really define ‘reality’ and another is to say ‘thank you’. We have to develop and defend our values, nurture new leaders, and enable others to reach their potential. It’s the most practical book on leadership I’ve ever read.