Nari Kahle, 36
Head of strategic programs, Cariad
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first job in the automotive industry was working for Volkswagen’s general and group works council. That’s probably a rather unusual position when starting to work for a car manufacturer. However, it gave me the opportunity to gain a holistic view of the entire company. I received great insights. For this, I’m extremely grateful.
Your greatest achievement?
Last year, I published a book on social innovations within mobility. It highlights stories about people, best practices and questions regarding the social sustainability of mobility. I go into affordability, mobility access and inclusion. However, the book also looks into the social aspects when manufacturing electric car batteries. Society faces both new opportunities but also risks with autonomous driving. The book explores the idea of digital mobility for all. I’m extremely thankful for all the attention the book has received. I will continue to raise the subject of social sustainability within the world of mobility.
Family: Husband, Marius
Born: Bonn, Germany
Nationality: German and South Korean
Languages: German, English, Korean, French
Education: Doctorate in innovation management, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Vallendar, Germany; master’s degree in media studies, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University, Bonn, Germany
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
When I started my career, I had this plan in my mind to start in a specific company. I prepared myself, spoke to the people and really thought it was a perfect fit. When it didn’t work out I was completely taken by surprise as I had not thought about a plan B. In retrospect, I am more than relieved that I had to find a different way for myself, which turned out to be a much better path than I expected. The experience taught me this: Don’t try to force a plan to become a reality and be open toward what life has in store for you.
What is your current challenge at work?
It has been working on building VW Group’s new tech and software company, Cariad. I worked on program management and contributed toward bringing this new company to life. I helped coordinate a different workstream, which was especially difficult. But I have gotten a real thrill watching the company’s growth.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
If someone offers you a task that you find extremely difficult, don’t say no. When someone believes in you and your skills, why should you be the one to cast doubt?
2020-present: Head of strategic programs, Cariad (Volkswagen Group), Wolfsburg, Germany
2018-2020: Head of social sustainability, Volkswagen, Wolfsburg
2015-2018: Specialist general and group works council, Volkswagen, Wolfsburg
2012-2015: Consultant and senior consultant, Detecon Consulting, Cologne, Germany
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
If you’re interested in becoming part of an industry that’s going through its most comprehensive transformation ever, then I welcome you to a truly fascinating world. Be open, be eager to drive change but also be respectful toward the success factors that have been important until now. It’s a great place to be. You can help shape the future of an important global industry.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
It would be great to build up a social impact mobility business one day. Let’s see…
What do you do to relax?
I try to attend a few yoga sessions during the week. Classical music also always helps me to unwind.
What is your dream location to live?
Over the years I have fallen in love with many cities. One of them is Tel Aviv. Perhaps one day I will get the chance to live there for a while.
What is your favorite driving song?
Everything that I can sing to and know the lyrics to.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
We have taken some amazing road trips through Central America and Africa. However, one journey I will never forget was around Madagascar in a first-generation VW Golf. It was thrilling, adventurous and just an unbelievable time spent with my best friend, who is my husband today.
What was your first car?
I used car-sharing during my studies. I really loved it.
I drive a Volkswagen ID4.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
Maybe a small electric convertible in which everything is made from fully recycled materials.