Five questions for Arlena Amiri
Arlena Amiri, Head of Polestar 0 Operations, on turning big-picture thinking into tangible targets – and how standing on the sidelines during a sustainable revolution is passé.
You’ve recently been appointed Head of Polestar 0 Operations. Congratulations! Tell us more about that.After establishing the Advanced Engineering department and getting operations up to speed with our amazing experts and leaders, I took on a similar assignment with the Polestar 0 project. In this new role, my ambition is to create the conditions required for our research leaders and partners to deliver a climate-neutral car by 2030. Simply put, this means eliminating all emissions from every aspect of production.For me, this is an engineering project through and through. It requires mapping all process steps, identifying emissions, understanding the challenges, questioning old truths and habits, and finding different solutions to eliminate emissions. It is all about understanding the core of the problem, being creative in our approach and testing different hypotheses to find the solutions we know are out there.From a diversity and inclusion perspective, this project requires openness, humbleness, and determination. Collaboration across the industry, across different disciplines and together with like-minded, stubborn, and dedicated partners will be key for success.How does the reality of your job compare with what people think you do?What is Advanced Engineering? What is innovation? What does 0 GHG mean? And how do you calculate that? These are the questions I often get. Some might think it’s all about workshops, presentations, strategy, and future thinking – which is true, in part. But it’s much more. We need to create an environment in which creativity can grow. Personally, I am very practical and results-oriented. For me, it has always been important to break down the “big picture” into tangible goals and targets, making clear categories of what, why, how, when and who.I strongly believe in having a clear vision, but more than that, I believe in the importance of implementing innovations as soon as there are actionable improvements. I’m encouraged by the honesty, urgency, and determination within the Polestar 0 project to make a difference, without wasting time on compromises or excuses.What are you and the Polestar 0 team working on now?At the moment, the project is in an intense research phase where we – together with our research leaders and partners – are exploring potential solutions to eliminate emissions that have been identified in our partners’ production lines.In the Polestar 0 project, we don’t have suppliers. We have partners. It’s an important distinction as it emphasises the collaborative effort to eliminate the emissions from cradle to grave*. We are also continuously working with experts in different disciplines to conduct gap analyses, ensuring we have the correct partnerships and focus areas. With no time to waste, focus and discipline are essential.What has happened or changed in your area of work over the last 10 years?Like many others, I started my engineering journey in the era of combustion technology, and I see that experience as highly valuable as we transform into the electric era. We need to understand our history if we want to scale into a fully electric and climate-neutral future. It wasn’t that long ago that I was analysing piston cracks, being blown away by turbo technologies, or calculating torque and speed to understand what engine size would best fit a certain drive cycle. And I did all this to optimise fuel efficiency and minimise the CO2 footprint. In transformations like these, we will experience friction, but friction is usually a natural result when movement is required.What makes you hopeful for the future?Over the past few decades, innovation has shown the strength of humankind when we join forces for the good of our planet. And now seeing the strong engagement from our partners in the Polestar 0 project, I’m convinced that together we are ready to move mountains. Malcolm X once said: “If not now, then when. If not me, then who?” And I think this sums it up well. The world has come to a point where it is no longer cool to stand on the sidelines and wait for better days. We all need to step up and move our brick on the road towards a climate-neutral future.* Cradle-to-grave is an assessment that considers impacts at each stage of a product’s life cycle, from the time natural resources are extracted from the ground and processed (cradle) through each subsequent stage of manufacturing, transportation, product use, and ultimately, disposal or recycling (grave).
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