CEO and founder, Monolith
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I founded Monolith in 2016 soon after finishing my doctorate at Imperial College. Our first paid work was with McLaren Automotive. The project was aimed at reducing early-stage engineering deviations and accelerating the virtual validation life cycle. These were the early days of AI in engineering, and pulled me from academia into entrepreneurship.
Your greatest achievement?
With Monolith we have developed AI technology that allows engineers to solve some of the toughest engineering challenges out there. We have contributed to the acceleration of electric car adoption and hydrogen fuel cell development. If our technology can contribute to achieving our collective net-zero goals, then this genuinely makes me proud. Our software has also helped make cars safer and more fuel efficient while also reducing their noise pollution. The list goes on and on. It’s hard to make a real difference, and I am delighted that we truly do.
Born: Hausen ob Verena, Germany
Nationality: German and British
Languages: German, English
Education: Doctorate in philosophy, Imperial College London, London, England; master’s degree in aerospace engineering and mathematics, Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands; bachelor’s degree in mathematical engineering, Bundeswehr University of Munich, Munich, Germany
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Automotive R&D data is worth $100 billion a year. When I started out, I thought that large engineering companies surely would want to make all of that data useful, as it’s their stored engineering expertise. They do, but they are also really busy working on new tech and hardly have the time to look back. If I could start Monolith over again, I would focus on the latest technology trends from the beginning.
What is your current challenge at work?
Monolith has grown rapidly over the last two years. I’m a scientist and not a seasoned executive. Yet, I’m a quick learner and have some seriously talented managers on my team who have helped me grow and scale the business. Another challenge is that we have solved some really hard problems in amazing ways. Now the question becomes: How do you scale that and bring it to 100,000 engineers? We want to know what engineering an AI solution looks like when thousands of company engineers are using the technology simultaneously and for an end-to-end product life cycle. That is our main challenge for the next five years.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Another founder once told me that it is most important for you to truly understand your product and market it better than anybody else. Ferrari and McLaren built great cars because they were racecar drivers. My super power is understanding complex engineering problems and finding mathematical ways to solve them.
2018 to present: CEO and founder, Monolith AI, London, England
2021 to present: Individual contributor, the AI Journal, London
2018–2021: Enterprise fellow and startup leader, Royal Academy of Engineering, Imperial College London, London
2017–2018: EPSRC doctoral prize fellow, Imperial College London, London
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Don’t go into finance or consulting like so many top graduates still do. There has never been a more exciting time to work in the automotive industry.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
There is so much more potential for AI in engineering. I genuinely can’t see myself doing anything but leading this company. I have worked in this area for 10 years and the opportunities keep growing. Given the incredible strides we have made in leveraging the potential of AI to make a step change in product development, the whole Monolith team and I think we can genuinely empower 100,000 engineers to cut their product development cycle in half by 2026.
What do you do to relax?
I play the piano, even when I’m in the office.
What is your dream location to live?
Lake Como, Italy.
What is your favorite driving song?
It’s “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
A drive along the west coast of Scotland. It was absolutely stunning and a fun adventure.
What was your first car?
A Seat Leon.
I currently live in London so I have no need to buy a car. I’m more intrigued by where shared mobility can take us.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
A Volvo station wagon. That is because some of the early designs were so simple, only a brilliant engineer could have come up with them.