Interview: Johan Stenson, Volvo Cars
We took a minute with Johan Stenson, Volvo Cars and new board member at ECO2 Vehicle Design and listened to his thoughts on the Centre and on vehicle research.
First, could you tell us something about yourself?
Well, I’m a bit of an odd bird. Graduated from Chalmers University of Technology 1995 with a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering. My main focus was structural dynamics and vehicle dynamics, and also mathematics. I’m an analytical person. But I also always had a great interest in people. For as long as I can remember I’ve put myself in contexts where I could create something together with others, like playing in a band, doing sports etc. I have quite often found myself in different leader roles without really applying for them,,, At Volvo Cars I was asked to take on the position as group manager after just six months as an employee and at the age of 25. Later I got the assignment to lead the formation of a new sound and vibration department. So, I’ve been a leader at Volvo Cars almost my whole career. And since I’m as interested in the dynamics of human collaborations as of the complexity in vehicle technology, I was happy to accept the position as leading the development of a new global framework for performance management within Volvo Cars in 2013. The performance management framework is now used throughout the whole company, and was the first step towards a more agile mindset within the company. I was then drafted as internal leadership coach, which I combined with a certification as a Business and Leadership Coach. Today I’m the senior director for the Driving Dynamics and Noise & Vibration Centre, with 200 employees.. This is also why I replace Olof Sturesson as the member of the board at ECO2 Vehicle Design, since he upheld this position at Volvo Cars before me.
What is your first thoughts on the Centre?
I’m still learning what the Centre is doing, and I’m very curious. This is an interesting network and I will contribute with what Volvo Cars has learnt and sees for the future. I also look forward to enjoying creative meetings with new people within our industry and academia. I’ve only meet with the board and Centre members once, but that gave me positive vibes and also some interesting new business connections.
How do you view the future of vehicle research?
I’m frequently asking myself if the industry – and also the academy – is too stuck in the past, in regard of issues concerning innovation and environment. We need a more vigorous attitude to the possible development of cars and transportation. There is not yet really a lot of disruption going on. People are still thinking and discussing the future of vehicles in the same old manners. The electric cars industry, for example, is just viewing their products as traditional cars running on electricity, and I don’t think that will hold for the future. We need to be more provocative and challenge these thought patterns. Innovation is born out of conflicts, not out of compliance.