Syed Shahrukh Kazmi , 37
Customer chief engineer, Aptiv
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I have always had a passion for cars. I really enjoy this industry's rapid pace. My first automotive job was as a pedestrian safety system lead engineer at Jaguar Land Rover.
Your greatest achievement?
I hope to be working on my next big achievement now. However, there were several projects I'm proud to have been a part of. That includes the development and launch of the full-electric Jaguar I-Pace and the all-new Land Rover Defender. Those stand out. Old Defenders were part of my childhood and I've seen how versatile they are. For me it was a moment of great pride to be involved in delivering active safety and lane assist features, which contributed to a top safety rating of five stars from EuroNCAP. Also, at the beginning of my career I had the unique opportunity to join a startup as part of a knowledge transfer partnership between Aston University and Pace Systems. I was given responsibility to develop a new product line, set up its ISO quality management system and scale its product families. This complete overview of business development gave me a unique opportunity to learn how to set up a business and how to scale it. I gained a lot of recognition including earning the Business Leader of Tomorrow award.
Syed Shahrukh Kazmi
Born: Punjab, Pakistan
Nationality: Pakistani and British
Languages: Urdu, English
Education: Master's degree in mechanical engineering, Aston University, Birmingham, England; bachelor's degree in computer aided design, Birmingham City University, Birmingham
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Fortunately, I have haven't had a big failure. However, there were a few small ones. Each failure taught me how to grow. I look at them as stepping stones on my road to successes. I learned failure is inevitable and an important part of any successful life. One way to avoid big failure is to embrace smaller mishaps and learn from them.
What is your current challenge at work?
As we move toward higher level autonomous systems, functional redundancy is essential. This redundancy not only has to be included in actuation, which is braking and steering, but also perception, localization, planning and electrical structures. To achieve this, all aspects of vehicles' systems need to be understood and balanced. The balancing of multiple design constraints is a challenge, but one that I really enjoy working on.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
One of my mentors told me that before a person leads others, that person has to learn how to lead oneself with intent. This advice has really stuck with me throughout my career. It has helped my development.
2020-present: Customer chief engineer Autonomous Driving, Aptiv, Munich, Germany
2016-2020: Engineering manager ADAS , Jaguar Land Rover, Gaydon, England
2014-2016: Senior system engineer occupant safety, Jaguar Land Rover, Gaydon
2011-2014: System lead engineer pedestrian safety, Jaguar Land Rover, Gaydon
2008-2011: Product design engineer, Pace System International, Rugby, England
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
The automotive industry is going through a major transformation. A person interested in this field has to be prepared to embrace this change. It has to be seen as a great opportunity to shape our shared future. To do this, it's vital to keep up with new skills and be resilient.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I want to be a key player in the democratization of autonomous technology that helps improve the daily lives of many people. To do that I have learned I need to develop a 360-degree view of business from engineering to operations to strategy. In the future I would want to be in a director role that allows me to look at these big challenges and scale a complex engineering system in a challenging market.
What do you do to relax?
I like running and hiking. There's something inspiring about mountains. It's such a physical and mental challenge to get to the top and yet it's very invigorating as well. On weekends I like to listen to TED talks. I also enjoy building Lego models with my children.
What is your dream location to live?
I like living close to the mountains. That's why Munich, where I'm currently based, is a dream location.
What is your favorite driving song?
I enjoy three at the moment: "Blue Bird" by Alexis Ffrench, "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor and "Conquest of Paradise" by Vangelis. These songs give me a sense of hope and confidence when it comes to my ambitions.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
My favorite road trip was from Oxford to the northern Lake District in the UK with my family. We were driving a Land Rover Discovery the entire time and really enjoyed the journey in the car. We got to test its off-road capabilities there as well.
What was your first car?
A Volkswagen Golf.
I don't own a car at the moment. I walk, use public transport and use car-sharing schemes instead. When I need a car, I get the one that best fits my needs at that time. Plus, in a city such as Munich, it's very economical and convenient to rely on public transportation as well as shared mobility solutions.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
A full-electric Land Rover Defender. Going above and beyond, as the company's slogan says.