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Confessions of a lawyer

Applying to the Global Graduate Programme was never part of Ida’s plans. However, an 80 kg dog and a football player would change everything. Ida applied, got accepted and quickly learned that Volvo Car Group is so much more than just a car factory. Time for cross-examining.

How has your view of the automotive industry changed?

“I wasn’t remotely interested in cars while growing up. Apart from being a hardcore Barbie fan, I wanted to become a prosecutor, like my favourite TV character, Emma Åklagare. A tough lady on a motorbike bringing down criminals; yeah, that sounded like fun. 

       Anyway, I couldn’t have imagined I would end up in the automotive industry when I started studying Law at Gothenburg School of Business, Economics and Law. However, after doing a Master in Business Creation and Entrepreneurship at Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg, I thought again. There are strong links between Volvo and the university, and the message that a car can be so much more than an engine, four wheels and a steering wheel really hit home. Today’s automotive industry is more concerned with mobility, telecommunications, applications and cross-border integration with a range of other features and product categories.”

What made you apply to the programme?

“I’d reached a point in my life when choosing a car was more or less a lifestyle choice. I had just acquired a 80 kg Great Dane, so I needed a car which could do the job. A Volvo V70 proved to be the perfect fit. Around that time, Volvo released a number of commercials with Zlatan in a starring role. Right away the ad appealed to my Northern Swedish roots, and the core message was personal, sincere and down to earth. I remember thinking that a vehicle manufacturer which communicates with its customers in this way must have sound values.

      The final piece in the jigsaw fell into place when I was introduced to the Volvo Cars Global Graduate Programme and advised to apply. The deal was done. As a lawyer, I was unsure whether I’d fit in among the engineers but of course, I didn’t need to have worry.

I got accepted to the programme and felt at home from day one. 

     The programme would also give me the opportunity to experience unique, hands-on training in a global environment, gaining an insight into cause, effect and the bigger picture. In a value-based, open culture such as Volvo, it’s great for a graduate like me to get access to all of this as part of such a fantastic programme.”

How have you benefited most personally from the programme so far?

“It is a really exciting opportunity to be entrusted with genuine responsibility and confidence to work on a range of projects and assignments. Being surrounded by so many talented people and gaining support from my managers and mentor creates a sense of security, and helps promote self-confidence when dealing with all the new challenges and situations I’m faced with.

      And thanks to job rotations and working in new business units, I’ve become better at quickly adapting to new conditions and adjusting to new roles. This experience is invaluable when it comes to leading others.    

       I’ve always been really passionate about personal development, and the Volvo Cars Global Graduate Programme presented a number of options from day one. At the start, I probably only understood about 20% of what was being discussed during meetings, but with a little effort, it wasn’t long until I really began to figure it out and get a sense of the context. In six months’ time I’m set to be placed in Washington for four to five months as one of my job rotations. USA is a key market for Volvo Cars, and I’ll be involved in work with Government affairs, autonomous cars and sustainability issues.”

So what’s it like working in the automotive industry now?

“I took a taxi the other day, and quickly found myself in a deep discussion with the driver about engines. This is a good example of how the world of cars has influenced a girl who used to think a career in law was the only way to go. When I tell people I work at Volvo, I feel a strong sense of pride. I’ve learned that a car isn’t just a form of transport but a far-reaching, mobile facility which helps make people’s lives easier. It’s also nice when I realise I can use my legal knowledge to help the development of the company.

      All in all, I’d advise anyone who’s thinking about applying, but is doubtful whether their education and career preferences fit the profile of a car manufacturer to simply go ahead. The automotive industry worldwide is faced with a number of changes and challenges. Volvo’s approach to meet these challenges involves tapping into talent, seeking young people with a range of specialities and skill-sets who can help Volvo segment its position as a leader in innovation.

         Car manufacturing today is not what it was, nor what it will become in future. I’m able to use my legal knowledge in order to create value for Volvo and offer perspectives on what we can offer our customers. This takes on even more importance when you consider today’s automotive law is rooted in the era of the horse and carriage. In today’s climate, with digitalisation, autonomous cars and car sharing, etc., adapting to and working on legal considerations is a must. Within five years’ time, I hope to become an effective, inspiring leader at Volvo Cars. I’m focused on legal issues as well as contributing to better business for Volvo and more attractive products for the customer.” >

Which three qualities would you say are most important for graduates?

Courage – to adapt to the wide range of roles and tasks assigned to you. By taking the initiative and being responsible for your individual role, you can help drive change.

Innovate– Volvo won’t hold you back, anything but. If you’re accepted onto the programme it’s because you have something Volvo is looking for. You should use this to your advantage. Think big, and embrace opportunities.

Enjoy being in change – Start by taking charge of your own life, then get the most out of the programme through job rotations, courses, overseas placements and contact with top management, etc. See yourself as someone who leads and inspires others.

  Choose three words to describe the Volvo Cars Global Graduate Programme:

“I’d say Fun, Challenging and Developing.” 

  What’s the best thing about working for Volvo?

“The variety of tasks, the responsibility you’re given and all the new experiences, like checking out a lorry crash in the crash testing lab!”  

  Do you have a secret talent you wish to reveal?

“I can identify all flags of the world.”

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