A true love affair
Fernando Lopez’s business card reads: Senior Commercial Project Manager (cluster 90), which means that he has the commercial responsibility for the 90 series cars. Two years ago Fernando successfully completed the Volvo Cars Global Graduate Programme.
“Volvo for Life” read the message on the car my father had just bought. This made a great impression on me, and I remember thinking that if a car could make such a promise, I’d have to find out more about it.”
The journey begins
There and then a seed was planted, and Volvo for Life would end up meaning far more to Fernando than a bold slogan on a sticker. The small country in the north proved to have more to offer the world than IKEA and polar bears. The journey had begun.
“I guess I had the same aspirations as most kids my age, to become a pilot or a fireman. Being a pilot was the big dream; to fly like Superman, my greatest idol.
I’ve always been really interested in engineering, although my cousin Javier and I had big plans to build up our own business. One of our more brilliant business ideas involved mixing our parents’ expensive perfumes and aftershaves to create new, unique scents, and sell them at a low price. It’s safe to say we weren’t the greatest young business minds back then!”
Seven countries, 17 cities
As a sought-after doctor and epidemiologist, Fernando’s father took the family on many commissions around the globe, and he got used to adjusting to new environments, countries, cities and cultures from an early age. After living in 17 different cities across seven countries, Fernando has extensive worldwide experience.
When applying to the global graduate programme he had a Double Master under his belt, in Business Economics and Industrial Engineering. Fernando chose to take the latter course at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, as he was increasingly drawn towards the “land of the Volvos”.
The last cold Coke in the desert
“When deciding to apply to the programme I was working in biomedicine at a pharmaceuticals company based in Basel, Switzerland. But I really wanted to return to Scandinavia, where Volvo had already gotten under my skin. The recruitment process was tough, but I enjoyed the challenge and learned a great deal. I did my best, and tried to show the assessors that I was the ‘last cold Coke in the desert’, as we say in Mexico!
A few weeks after finishing the final part of the selection process, Volvo contacted me and offered me a position in the programme.”
Designed around me
“I realised I now had the chance to work for one of the world’s most exciting car manufacturers. The Global Graduate Programme is extremely hands-on. You’re given a position and expected to be productive with the tasks assigned to you. After a busy induction week together with the other graduates, I was placed in my home department. During the first week, we also had the chance to meet members of Volvo’s senior management, known as the Executive Management Team, or EMT. For me, getting to know members of the EMT was one of the programme’s greatest benefits. It helped me gain invaluable insight into my future career.
During the programme you rotate across different departments, both in Sweden and overseas. Although interesting and exciting, this really challenged you to develop as you’d be effectively starting a new job every six months, or sometimes even more often. You develop a global mindset and strengthen your qualities as a future leader, which is one of the main aims of the programme. As we have described it together with my graduate colleagues, it’s a bit like sitting inside a tumble dryer while riding a roller-coaster – overwhelming, confusing and empowering, but you don’t want to miss a single minute. It’s hard to imagine a better introduction and insight into the workings of Volvo, and a premium car manufacturer.
I got genuinely warm support from my more experienced colleagues, graduates, managers and my mentor throughout the entire programme. The mantra ‘Designed around you’ applies as much to the programme as it does to Volvo’s products. This means the more commitment and initiative you demonstrate, the more you get back. A lot is up to you, but there are almost no limits to what you can get involved in and experience. I was often surprised by the level of responsibility you were given during the programme, and knowing you’re trusted really helps you to make progress.”
Passion for real
Fernando sensed the passion in the company as soon as he started the programme, and this impression has been reinforced as he has gained new experience.
“There’s a genuine passion for cars throughout the company, and one of Volvo’s great assets is its team of young, dedicated employees who are as passionate about sustainability and humanity as they are about vehicles and innovation. It may sound a little contrived, but for me, this is a key aspect of Volvo for Life, which has also become my life.”
Fernando’s three words to describe the Volvo Cars Global Graduate Programme:
“Respectful, Brave and Challenging.”
Fernando on the best thing about working at Volvo Cars:
“This is a really exciting time for the automotive industry, and Volvo is the most human centric innovative company you could wish to work for. Volvo is run on sound values, which promote trust in people and respect the planet we live in and make use of.”
Fernando’s hidden talent:
“It’s not something I’m proud of, but I’m really good at folding serviettes into flowers...”