Cliodhna Lyons, 42
Director product strategy and planning for EMEAIO, Nissan
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I started as an engineer for diesel engine emissions calibration. The complex engineering and overall processes behind cars always drew me to this industry. After all, a car is a product we use every day.
Your greatest achievement?
In 2020, I adapted Nissan’s long-term corporate and brand strategy into an actionable product-level plan for electrification in Europe based on market and consumer insights. The strategy was approved during my first year as the company’s director of product strategy and planning for the region. The plan received a global commitment from Nissan for investment in development and manufacturing of both powertrains and vehicles. Sign-off occurred by the end of 2021. Key elements of this strategy were announced at Nissan’s recent electrified event in Madrid. On a personal level, my greatest achievement is my two children. They never cease to amaze me. I admire the way they look at the world and their positive energy.
Family: Husband, Jordi; daughter, Neasa, 11; son, Conor, 7
Born: Dublin, Ireland
Languages: English, Spanish, some French and German
Education: Doctorate and bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
In my first year at Nissan I remember coordinating an executive test drive with various calibration settings. I mistakenly uploaded the wrong setting to the car, invalidating one of the tests and leading to the executive's time being wasted. This taught me to be methodical, focused and always double check all data. This lesson has served me well since then.
What is your current challenge at work?
The region I’m responsible for is incredibly diverse when it comes to customer needs, geography and motorization levels. My challenge is to tailor the products to the respective market portfolio strategies. We need to fulfill our customers’ needs in each region we represent.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Don’t plan it all out. I interpret this as allowing room for professional and personal growth. Be open to opportunities even if they are unexpected. To me, it also means decisions shouldn’t be made ahead of time because that could narrow down your choices. It is impossible to know how we will feel and what choices we are ready to make before being in the situation. One step at a time!
2021-present: Director product strategy and planning for Europe, Middle East, Africa, India and Oceania, Nissan, Paris, France
2019-2021: Director product strategy and planning for Europe and Russia, Nissan, Paris
2014-2019: Manager for powertrain software and architecture, Nissan Technical Centre Europe, Barcelona, Spain
2011-2014: Section manager powertrain software development, Nissan Technical Centre Europe, Barcelona
2006-2011: Engine calibration engineer, Nissan Technical Centre Europe, Madrid and Barcelona
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Come join us – but bring a willingness to grow and an open mindset with you. The challenges are numerous, and no two days are the same, but you will enjoy the ride.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
As an engineer I’m always looking to optimize operations and processes as well as maximize business contributions. However, my passion lies with strategic decision making and innovative products that will change the lives of generations to come. My dream job is anything that allows me to contribute what I believe is important. Those elements are a must.
What do you do to relax?
I like doing yoga and running as well as skiing in the winter and going bike riding with my children during the weekend. I also like reading. I enjoy everything from political autobiographies to fiction.
What is your dream location to live?
I have lived in Dublin, Madrid, Barcelona and now Paris. I have loved them all. I hope to discover a few more destinations before settling on my dream location.
What is your favorite driving song?
“With or Without You” by U2. The song reminds me of growing up in Ireland. It’s great to sing out loud while driving. Of course, it will now be stuck in my head all day long.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
We took a family road trip in California during the 1990s. We drove from San Francisco to San Diego over several weeks. It gave me a taste for travel and discovering the world.
What was your first car?
A Renault Clio Sport Team.
A Nissan X-Trail.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would love to be a Nissan Ariya. It’s calm, has a strong presence and futuristic outlook.