What attracted you to the auto industry?
I thought cars were very interesting consumer products and I was attracted to the complexity of the operation.
First automotive job:
That was 1987 when I was a trainee at Saab in Trollhaettan, Sweden.
What was your big break?
I can’t think of a specific event that I would call a big break. I’ve been working within the industrial system and customer service in various positions and I have learned something in every job that furthered my career.
What is the major challenge you have faced in your career?
There have been personal and professional ones over the years. In 1993 I held my first managerial position at the age of 29. I had to give a group of Saab employees notice. Some of them had worked at Saab longer than I had been alive. That was very challenging. At the same time my husband went through cancer treatment. Today Volvo is rapidly expanding its manufacturing footprint and sales are growing fast. This requires totally new prerequisites for the aftermarket logistical setup. Also, there is increased local sourcing in China now, and soon that will be the case for Volvo in the U.S. In addition, we need to be able to export around the globe. The growth and our local distribution concept increases the number of warehouses worldwide. The complexity is incredible.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
There are many and all of them provided a different kind of support. Some managers trusted me so I could grow. Others were role models in leadership while some really supported me when my children were young. Then there are those people on the operations side who you learn from every day.
What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry?
I think we have to encourage more girls to attend technical universities. We have to find ways to make it more hip to go to these universities right after high school and, if possible, boost interest even earlier. They should see in primary school how interesting physics, math and chemistry can be.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
I like playing golf. When my kids were younger we were very involved in their sporting activities. I also like to travel and be outdoors.
What keeps you awake at night?
Nothing. Sleep comes very easily to me.
Name one thing about yourself that most people don’t know.
I’m quite interested in politics. I’m not connected to any political party but I enjoy listening to the various views and like to understand the structures of the world.
If I had it to do all over again, I would ...
Probably do the same again. I love my work and personal life but I might have enjoyed working in several other business areas as well.
When and where was your last vacation?
My daughter and I recently went to Mallorca for five days to make sure we got some sun and had the chance to enjoy the warm water. We have a vacation home along the Swedish west coast but it’s tough to trust the fickle Swedish weather.
Name one talent you wish you had.
I would like to be more musical and be able to play the guitar. It would also be great to entertain friends during late night parties.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
My father told me that each generation needs to make its own mistakes. That means that your children have to learn some things by making a mistake and sometimes they will succeed at something you’ve never done yourself. I’ve also been told to focus on the vital few and not the trivial many, which I consider good advice. I also learned to live by the motto: “Go out and see.”
What advice would you give your child?
The same thing that my father said to me.
If you were a car, what car would you be?
I would be a Volvo XC90 plug-in hybrid. It is a large premium vehicle with lots of space for stuff and friends with an environmental touch.