Ex: What is one truth you believe in that most people disagree with you on?
Charles: These are the best of times! In these days of social media and headline news, it is easy to get caught up in the challenges we are facing. This is particularly true in 2020 when we are under a constant barrage of bad news. However, if we step back and look at the long-term statistics, we see a very different picture. We are richer, living longer, and better educated than previous generations. There is less crime, war deaths, and hunger than ever before. Certainly, there is massive room for improvement, but we should be very grateful to live in these times.
Ex: What is the one subject you think aspiring leaders should learn
Charles: Communication. In these days of constantly shifting information, it is critical to be simple, clear, and consistent in our message to all stakeholders. I often see people with the right ideas and plans but everything falls apart because of poor communication. That is why I would encourage all aspiring leaders to spend much more time and energy on honing their communication skills.
Ex: One thing you believe is absolutely necessary for sustained growth.
Charles: A strong company culture of positivity, learning, and innovation. Business challenges come and go, but a company culture that encourages innovation remains optimistic and forgives mistakes is vital to success in this ever-changing world.
Ex: One book you keep coming back to. Charles: The Lean Startup by Eric Reis- This book gives you the tools to foster continuous innovation in this world of extreme uncertainty.
Ex: When have you failed and how did you overcome it?
Charles: I fail all the time. If you are not failing, you are not trying enough new ideas. The trick is to fail small, learn, and adjust. I don’t lose a moment of sleep
thinking about failure. Failure excites me and shows me an opportunity.
Ex: One futuristic feature that you can’t wait to introduce in your vehicle.
Charles: Next-generation Autonomous Drive. 600 people die in traffic-related accidents in India every day. It is a myth that Autonomous Drive will not have an impact here. We have been a leader when it comes to car safety for decades. And that will never change. We have invented some of the most important features in the history of car safety. Our 3-point Safety Belt which we introduced in 1959, has been the biggest safety innovation done so far. It is more than 60 years now and every automobile player is using it as a safety feature.
Ex: Which old-school car/bike design inspired you the most?
Charles: I love Royal Enfield! I have enormous respect for the work Siddhartha Lal has done in building this historic brand.
Ex: How long till Volvo enters the self-driving car segment?
Charles: This will happen in steps, but we have already started. In India, we are the only luxury car brand providing radar-based safety features. Features like ‘City Safety’ and ‘Lane Keeping Aid’ not only keep the customers safe but also saves people around the car. This is the first step in self-driving and Volvo will lead in this area.