April 26 - 30 | 2021

Speaker Interview

Mary Joyce

Vice President & GM, Automotive and Mobility Division

Mercedes Benz

1. Could you tell us more about any projects you are working on currently and/or your area of expertise?

UL’s mission is working for a safer world, thus within the mobility industry we work with OEMs, suppliers and the broader industry to help them bring safe and secure technology to the marketplace. Many of our most recent projects are centred around the safety and security of newer trends such as electrification, connectivity, and autonomy.

2. Do you see any strategies that the automotive industry can adopt to accelerate recovery post-COVID 19?

We are seeing a positive trend with willingness of OEMs to cooperate with partners – automotive and others to address challenges. Collaborating with the right technology and service partners can lower the cost of very expensive technology that consumers are starting to demand. Brands looking to position themselves for recovery need to adapt faster industry cycles and shorter planning.

3. How do you think industry can prepare its workforce for the current and upcoming challenges?

Rewarding and encouraging diversity and inclusive behaviours, cross-discipline and continuous learning, and sustainability and security innovation.

4. How is consumer demand for automotive shifting, and how will it look by 2030?

Quality and affordability are still high on consumer’s radar, but we are seeing a shift to demands of sustainability and renewable technology. As with other consumer products, connectivity is of high importance. Drivers and riders now expect the same level of connectivity from their vehicles that they get from their smartphones, laptops, tablets, and tech wearables.

5. What are the main ways in which digitisation is creating opportunities for automotive manufacturing?

I see one of the primary benefits from digitisation is in interconnecting the supply chain. This can reduce costs and accelerate supply chain transparency through continued partner integration. Data gathering and analytics can reduce the number of defects and speed up the entire process of component design, manufacturing and delivery.

6. How are future technology trends changing patterns of collaboration with other actors (e.g., technology applications, research institutions, government bodies) for automotive innovation?

As alluded to in an earlier question, the cost of technologies such as autonomy, connectivity and even electrification is huge. Sharing costs, leaning on expertise from other industries and institutions can lead to technology breakthroughs faster and more cost effective.

7. Why are second-life battery solutions important for electric vehicle manufacturers? ?

Creating a circular supply chain for EV batteries is key in reducing an OEM’s environmental footprint. Investors and consumers alike are placing more value on companies that are taking actionable steps in sustainability and lowing environmental footprint.

8. What are some of the enduring challenges facing women in the automotive industry? How are companies working towards finding solutions?

“According to a report by catalyst, in 2018 only 16 women (eight percent) were executives in the top 20 motor vehicle and parts companies in the Fortune Global 500.”

To advance equity and generate gender parity within the industry, there are a number of key actions an organization ought to take. First organizations must take intentional actions to advance gender representation in their leadership ranks by educating their leaders on bias, measuring their progress against commitments and incorporating DI metrics into all people process such as talent and succession planning, executive recruiting and targeted development. As an industry, we need to develop pipelining programs to generate interest in the industry among young girls, starting at the elementary school / middle school level. A career in automotive engineering can be so rewarding and meaningful due to the fact you are helping to advance technology that saves and improves lives. The industry is also moving towards more focus on sustainability, circular economy and zero carbon footprint. The stereotypical automotive engineer is a thing of the past and we need to message that starting with the very young. It is important for the industry to view this as an inside out approach, let’s enhance the culture of the industry and within our organization and develop a pipeline to increase balanced representation throughout.

 Aleksander Rzepecki