Sofia Björnesson on the world finding its zen during lockdown.
How does the reality of your job compare with what people think you do?
I think people at work see me as someone they can ask about anything and always get an answer. Whether it’s about the cars, their whereabouts, specs, upcoming events, and so on. This is understandable, because in all the projects that I’ve been involved in, it’s always been my job to know everything and have answers for every question. So, if someone outside Polestar asked me what I do, I’d find it hard to give a quick answer. I think that’s very common at Polestar because everyone’s involved in a lot of things! But the role I got hired for was Commercial Project Manager. I’m responsible for the commercial side of the car projects and together with the technical team, I make sure we have an attractive product when it comes to price, volume, everything you can think of. How we promote the cars in a good way, how we launch them, all this has been my responsibility. Since May I’ve been manager of the Commercial Cars department. My team and I manage all of the cars used for public events, displays, photo shoots, commercials, press events and other activities. If someone at Polestar needs a car for a press campaign or for, say, the Beijing Motor Show, they’ll send a request to my team and we’ll make it happen.
Tell us about a trend that is shaping your area of work at the moment.
It would have to be electrification. As an electric car brand, we’re at the centre of this trend. Our customers expect us to know everything about electrification, electrified products, charging, and all related subjects. This knowledge is something that we need to acquire and want to pass on to as many as possible. The more people embracing electrification the better! And of course, I sincerely hope that electrification won’t be just a trend, but at this stage of development, I think that would be highly unlikely.
What is your favourite invention (you can’t say electrification)?
I have to say the bicycle! Especially now that my kids are at that age where they can cycle by themselves to friends and activities and they’re less dependent on me driving them around. It’s a win-win situation for everybody. I’ve always found cycling to be a very pleasant and relaxing way of transportation. Sustainable too, of course. I’ve promised myself that I’m going to start cycling to work. It hasn’t happened yet but…you know. One day.
What has happened or changed in your area of work over the last 10 years?
Wow. A lot! I’ve been working at Polestar for four years, but before that I worked as a Product Manager at SKF in the department that made wheel bearings for cars and trucks. So, I’ve completely changed my area of work for a more ad-hoc, practical approach with faster decision making. I’ve always enjoyed working flexibly and I love problem solving. I’m definitely not a person who’s passionate about PowerPoints or Excel, although I ultimately have to work with these too. But if we’re speaking more generally about what has happened over the last ten years, it’s pretty crazy to think about what has changed in terms of digitalisation. It’s a blessing and a curse because we rely so heavily on fast, smooth Wi-Fi and internet, but do you even remember that we used to have meetings where we made presentations using an overhead projector? Just think about what we can do with our computers today compared to ten years ago, and our phones for that matter. Virtual meetings have never been easier, and thank goodness for that, considering the situation we’re currently in. In my job I communicate with so many people using basically every platform there is. Texting, mailing, phone calls, Skype, Teams, WhatsApp, WeChat, social media, you name it. Without my phone I would be completely lost. So, digitalisation has definitely had a major impact on my area of work.
What makes you hopeful for the future?
When COVID-19 began to spread, the world kind of stopped for a while. Everyone was asking “what’s going on?” and slowly we began to think about other big questions as well. Like how to better take care of each other and the world we live in. We got to see the impact our industries have on the environment with our own eyes, as factories shut down, traffic was reduced, and the air cleared from fumes and emissions. We realised that we don’t have to travel so much and that we don’t have to fly thousands of miles to attend a business meeting when we can use one of many digital platforms. If we can just hold on to this calmness and these insights, I’m hopeful we can create new and more sustainable solutions for the future. Included in that process is of course our progress with electrification and electric vehicles. They’re a very important step for a sustainable future, but also a future where we get to keep our mobility.
Everything we produce today has an environmental footprint. EVs are no exception. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Over time we can change how cars are made. And you can influence that progress. Because what you choose to buy is what the industry becomes. To enable us all to choose the greenest path, we all need to understand the scope of that footprint.