Annika Ratte-Front, 43
Head of world model and artificial intelligence, Continental Automotive Distance Control Systems, Continental
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I was the coordinator for a crash sensing application for German automakers at Autoliv France. I liked the dynamics of the industry and enjoyed the mission of being a cultural bridge between the French arm of a Swedish supplier working with German brands. It seemed like a perfect fit.
Born: Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany
Languages: German, French, English, Spanish
Education: Master’s degree in aerospace engineering, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany; master’s degree in general engineering, Ecole Centrale Paris, Chatenay-Malabris, France
Your greatest achievement?
Helping to set up Zenuity, which was a joint venture established by Autoliv and Volvo to develop software for advanced driver assistance and autonomous drive systems. We created an advanced driver assistance software that quickly gained a global customer base. I’m also proud that I was able to bring together 400 people from two different work cultures and to have brought in 200 new people at five global locations. Along with retaining Autoliv’s [now Veoneer’s] legacy customers, we won seven new customers with Zenuity’s software products.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
What I regret most during my career are the times when I was unsure of myself and gave up on an idea too early. However, this taught me to trust my intuition. Now, when I believe in something, I fight for it even when I run into resistance.
What is your current challenge at work?
I’m responsible for introducing the use of artificial intelligence in development. This is a large-scale mission for us. What makes this challenging is that it’s not only a new technology we all have to get used to. This also completely changes the way development work is done.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
One of my bosses once told me that you can be wrong if you are right too early. Think about that. This advice has stayed with me. Big organizational changes and major technological leaps only take place when an entire team is involved. It’s so important to communicate around ideas and find a pace that everybody involved can follow.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
It helps to be curious, willing to learn and open to challenges. It’s also important to always be respectful of others because you meet people from so many different backgrounds.
2017-2019: Vice president product development, Zenuity, Unterschleissheim, Germany
2017: Vice president system and perception development, Zenuity, Unterschleissheim
2016-2017: Managing director, Autoliv and Zenuity, Dachau, Germany
2014-2016: Product line manager for automated driving systems, Autoliv, Dachau
2011-2014: Site engineering manager, Autoliv, Dachau
2008-2011: Global manager crash sensing algorithms, Autoliv, Dachau
2007-2008: Manager restraint control and sensing, Autoliv, Dachau
2005-2007: Manager development and application, Autoliv, Dachau
2002-2005: Project development coordinator, Autoliv Electronics, Cergy, France
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I am happy with any role that allows me to work with interesting technology. I really enjoy being part of a team that completely transforms an organization.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy hiking, yoga and meditating. I sing and play the piano, so music also relaxes me, as does gardening.
What is your dream location to live?
It would be wonderful to live in a villa on an Italian island.
What is your favorite driving song?
I mostly listen to classical music while driving. It helps me think through diverse work challenges.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
After my husband and I got married we toured New Zealand. That was very special. I loved the country’s landscape, diversity and unique cultures.
What was your first car?
My husband’s Citroen ZX.
A Ford Mondeo, which is the company’s pool car.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would decide to be a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It has an inspiring exterior appearance, which it has maintained over years, combined with power and top technology under the hood.