Natalie Robyn, 40
Managing director Switzerland, Volvo Cars
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first job linked to the automotive industry was a six-sigma project with Delphi Europe while completing my MBA. It linked well with the operational management courses I was enrolled in at the time. It was pure coincidence that this was an automotive project. Although I was a bit skeptical, my experience was very good. It showed me how varied the automotive industry is, and I got a glimpse into how innovation would shape the future.
Your greatest achievement?
I’ve been in charge of my career every step of the way. While I have been fortunate to receive many wonderful opportunities, I have also encountered difficulties. But I always stuck to my beliefs, my strengths and aspirations. Over time, I also recognized the importance of balancing a healthy lifestyle with work as well as maintaining focus and strong ties with my family. I share these goals with my partner.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
I would say it was not getting back up fast enough after being knocked down. Every mistake is a lesson learned. It is imperative to get back up quickly, keep moving forward and put it behind you.
What is your current challenge at work?
We are moving very fast and are stepping into a new level of performance and growth. My challenge, together with my team, is to make sure we are set up in the most effective way. We need to manage our essential business while tackling future innovation head on. We also have to keep our commitments and core values on track.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
The industry has changed dramatically from industrial mass manufactured products to today’s innovative mobility solutions with connected technology. It offers much more service and convenience to customers. Transformations are coming faster than ever. Despite this, we sometimes still see outdated processes, activities and mentalities. While balance is good, we need to completely move forward and embrace the future.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
The function of leadership is to create more leaders not more followers.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
If someone says to you that it is not possible then think about how it actually can be possible and go for it. Engage in transformation and make your mark and don’t be afraid to be different.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I love being a part of the Volvo team. Aside from being convinced about our products, I firmly stand behind the culture, values and sustainability commitments of this company. I will always look for a job with responsibility and challenges. I also want the ability to continue to learn and a chance to make a difference as well as contribute to the strength of this company.
What do you do to relax?
I love the outdoors and activities around the ocean, lakes and mountains. My partner and I especially enjoy mountaineering in the winter. We usually set a couple of summit goals early in the season.
What is your pet peeve?
I don’t like it when people are lazy or show a lack of transparency.
What was your first car?
A Jeep Wrangler.
It’s a Volvo V90 Cross Country. It’s a Volvo Ocean Race edition.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would go for a Volvo XC40 R design because it’s sporty, practical and has a great look.
2017-present: Managing director, Volvo Cars, Zurich, Switzerland
2015-2016: Vice president international markets and importers, Volvo, Zurich
2012-2014: Regional director, Nissan Europe, Rolle, Switzerland
2011-2012: Head of sales operations and market management, Chrysler for Europe, Middle East Africa, Stuttgart, Germany
2010-2011: Senior market manager, Chrysler EMEA, Stuttgart
2006-2010: Market manager, DaimlerChrysler International, Stuttgart and Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA