Chetan Kotur on improving society through electric mobility
How does the reality of your job compare with what people think you do?
A lot of the time people just see me travelling and running around in the office. Maybe people think I’m avoiding them, but as a CEO Assistant my days are extremely varied and intense. Because of the nature of my job, working alongside the CEO, my job is very much about throwing myself at any issue at any given time in all parts of the company. So, I’m problem solving 24/7, on issues ranging from engineering, design, sales, manufacturing, marketing, finance, PR, or preparing for board meetings…my job is pretty varied! In short, I try to keep the company moving in the right direction by supporting the CEO in leading the company, and supporting all the different departments in their tasks, always being there for the team.
Tell us about a trend that is shaping your area of work at the moment.
The constant trend since I started from day one, is that the intensity, the speed and the complexity has been exponential. My first day at the job I came in thinking “this is exciting and everything is going to be new and fresh”. I got through the front doors and there was no walk through like “this is the coffee room, this is the toilet, here’s where this and that is”, it was straight into a meeting and preparing a presentation for the CEO and it had to be done in two hours. It was quite the baptism of fire! Now I’ve been doing this job for three years and it really has been a life-changing experience. One thing I’ve learned is that the more you push and try to disrupt – because we’re challenging the future to be something that we want it to be, rather than a dystopian mess – that ambition for a bright future makes life more and more challenging every day. But those challenges are so exciting to take on because you know that at the end of the day the rewards could be huge. We’re trying to change society for the better, that’s the whole point. So, the trend, I would say, is that every day becomes more challenging and more complex, but that is what makes life so awesome.
What is your favorite invention (you can’t say electrification)?
This is a really tricky question because I’m an engineer and a total geek, so I have so many favorites it’s hard to narrow it down! But there is one I’m particularly proud of because it comes from the part of the world where I grew up and that is the electric lightbulb. It is a massive symbol of hope because it’s given us an opportunity to live in the light, away from the dark, and it’s transformed our lives more than we could have imagined. Life is so limited without it. I think the lightbulb is the most underrated invention.
What has happened/changed in your area of work in the last 10 years?
If we’re talking about engineering, the focus has changed enormously. I started off my engineering journey designing diesel engines, which is quite ironic actually. At that time there was so much excitement around improving technology that’s been around for like 110 years. The whole electrification thing was so fresh and new (and quite scary to be honest), because all the people running the show had spent their whole careers improving the efficiency of diesel engines. And they were terrified of the fact that there was this massive change about to happen. So, in that sense, the change has been enormous because the focus on sustainability is now at the forefront of everything. Back then, “sustainability” was more of a buzzword that no one was really prioritising. People were flying like nobody’s business all over the world and the focus was more about making money than about doing things in a smarter, more sustainable way. That’s been an extremely positive change. Also, the speed of events now is crazy. This is partly because the competition is so much tougher but it’s also due to higher expectations from society. So, the biggest changes have definitely been the speed and focus of how we are trying to impact society.
What makes you hopeful for the future?
The fact that what we do at Polestar is the stuff of dreams. It might sound like a cliché, but we are making our dreams real and that’s pretty special. I’m hopeful for the future because working at Polestar, we’re right at the centre of creating solutions for the biggest problems in society right now. We’re not just on the periphery, we’re not just a part of an industry that’s moving towards making the world a better place. We’re actively driving it, at the centre, where all the action is. I think that we’ve got the responsibility to deliver, and as an engineer I take that responsibility extremely seriously. I think I’ve been gifted the ability to make an impact on society, and it’s my duty as a citizen of the earth to do my best to improve how we live.
The Overview Effect: a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space. Those who have experienced it describe a new understanding of the uniqueness, fragility, and relative smallness of our one and only home. And while it’s easy to imagine the impact this must have; it seems that spaceflight is a prerequisite. Which is why we sat down with Karen Nyberg.
Time is running out. To stay within the 1.5-degree target, we need to take immediate action. In the quest for circularity, transitioning to electric transport is one of several imperative steps. This step calls for a change in behaviour, from people, businesses, and governments. Because frankly, we don’t have time not to.