Orit Shifman, 42
Group CEO, chairman and founder, OSR Enterprises
Born: Petah-Tiqwa, Israel
Languages: English, Hebrew
Education: Master's and bachelor's degrees in law from Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel. Additional studies in computer science and statistics
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I founded OSR Enterprises in 2011. Back then, the automotive world was very much different from today. It was all about cars, from the design, to the brand image to the horsepower. People aspired to own cars. Today, when you ask what is the hottest thing in technology, chances are people will say it is autonomous and robocars. In 2011, consumers associated cutting-edge technology with their mobile phones and believed the automotive industry was set in its ways. However, I was convinced the industry was about to transform.
Your greatest achievement?
It is founding OSR Enterprises as a Tier 1 supplier in 2011. I believed a time would come when a fresh outlook and new methodologies would be needed for an industry that relied heavily on traditional thinking and conservative concepts. I think these outdated concepts are an obstacle to fulfilling the future requirements of next-generation cars.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
I wouldn't call any of my experiences failures. I prefer not to classify every experience as positive or negative. I see it as an event I can learn from even if the outcome doesn't meet my planned expectations. Every experience helps you get one step closer to your goal.
What is your current challenge at work?
My team and I deal with the challenge of changing the mindset of the carmakers. We show them that today's car architecture isn't designed to deal with the risks and requirements of tomorrow. That doesn't just pertain to automated driving but also to cybersecurity and data protection. OSR's Evolver platform is a fundamental part of my holistic approach to the challenges of cybersecurity and data protection. We are taking practical steps to solve these complex problems, bridging the gap between the car of the present and the necessities of the future.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
What surprised me was the gap between the visions and requirements of the carmakers and the actual vehicular architectures they are currently working with. The 80 to 150 electronic control units at the heart of each car's electrical and electronic (E/E) architecture are all vulnerable to cyberattacks. Once a hacker is in the car, he can cause serious damage. A car isn't a smartphone, it's a life capsule. We put smartphones in our pockets, while we put our loved ones in our cars. We shouldn't take autonomous driving lightly. You can't trial-and-error with a car. I believe that building a robotic, driverless car on the foundation of a 1980s architecture is an impossible task. Combining new-era technologies with an old architecture doesn't make sense to me.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Trust your gut feelings. Don't be afraid to act on them even when everyone else is moving in a different direction.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
This piece of advice is mainly for the women out there: Own your ideas. Step forward and make sure you are acknowledged for your individual contribution to the company. Take credit for your ideas. That is the best way for management to acknowledge your true value and who you really are. At the same time, owning your ideas doesn't stand in the way of great teamwork.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I feel I am exactly where I want to be. Leading OSR puts me in the driver's seat to achieve my goals as well as maximize my business and technological creativity.
What do you do to relax?
I tend to work almost 20 hours a day. However, I still try to set aside one hour a day where I do nothing but listen to music and think. This is how I get my best ideas.
What is your pet peeve?
What was your first car?
You might find this hard to believe, but to this day I have never owned a car. I think driving is a total waste of my time. However, I am all for smart and secure mobility, but this doesn't have to be exclusively linked to car ownership.
2011-present: Group CEO, chairman and founder, OSR Enterprises, Zug, Switzerland
1998- 2010: Owner of law firm; involved in private worldwide business ventures