Olia Michou, 38
Director of product, Vulog
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first automotive job was with Vulog as a product owner. When I started working 15 years ago it was long before car-sharing and ride-sharing had become the norm. However, even then I was troubled by my commuting needs. In fact, I was trying to find the best way to mix the use of public transportation and car-pooling with my colleagues. Since then, mobility and how people commute have become my passions. When the opportunity arose to work for a company that is so compatible with my personal mission, I grabbed it.
Your greatest achievement?
Professionally, it was getting promoted and garnering the trust to build a product team that drove the transformation of Vulog’s vision to a scalable SaaS (software as a service) and a platform driven by APIs (application programming interfaces). We had just one and a half years to design and develop everything from scratch. This made Vulog a global player and made us the preferred mobility solution provider for six automakers. My personal achievements include attaining my software engineering degree while continuing my piano studies.
Family: Husband, Diamantis; daughters, Melissanthi, 5, Alkyoni, 1
Born: Larisa, Greece
Languages: Greek, English, French, Spanish, German
Education: Master’s degree in informatics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece; bachelor’s degree in software engineering, Business School of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece; bachelor’s degree in piano, New Conservatory of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
There was an introduction of a product line that just wasn’t the right fit for the market. This taught me that instead of using the traditional waterfall project-based approach I needed to restructure the organization and embrace continuous discovery and delivery.
What is your current challenge at work?
Given the fast-paced environment in mobility, we need to deliver value in short but frequent intervals while maintaining our capacity to innovate.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I like this advice from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: “Be stubborn on your vision but flexible on the details.”
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
The future of mobility is autonomous, shared and data driven. You need to innovate, take risks and make bold decisions and have the diligence to deliver on what you promise.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I want to help facilitate the transformation to sustainable mobility.
2019-present: Director of product, Vulog, Nice, France
2018-2019: Product leader, Vulog, Nice
2016-2018: Product owner, Vulog, Nice
2014-2016: Scrum master, Amadeus, Nice
2012-2014: Software engineer, Amadeus, Nice
2009-2011: Laboratory associate professor, University of Central Macedonia, Serres, Greece
2008-2011: Co-founder, Aynsoft, Thessaloniki, France
What do you do to relax?
I play the piano.
What is your dream location to live?
I have been living in Nice for 10 years and I love it. However, I would love it even more if it developed into a greener, more sustainable city.
What is your favorite driving song?
I love driving while listening to the breathtaking symphonies of Ennio Morricone. My favorite is the “Love Theme.”
What was your favorite road trip and why?
A few years ago, I drove along Greece’s Ionian coast in September. This off-the-beaten-path adventure provided stunning views of the sea as well as the chance to visit quaint villages, remote archeological sites and secluded beaches.
What was your first car?
A used 2005 Volkswagen Polo.
I don’t own a car anymore, I use car-sharing instead.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
A shared Volkswagen ID3.