One woman’s journey to the epicenter of cutting-edge technology with Volvo Penta

Today, Hanna Ljungqvist is the vice president of New Business at Volvo Penta. She leads a team of electromobility, connectivity and automation experts, and is passionate about the way new technology can generate more value for customers and society. Hanna’s journey began at Chalmers University, but she soon embarked on a career within the Volvo Group. One that would take her to the epicenter of cutting-edge technology and innovative developments. Join me as I ask her all about it.

Hi Hanna. You’re the vice president of New Business at Volvo Penta. Tell me how it all began.

My journey with Volvo began when I studied industrial design engineering at Chalmers University. It was an exciting education about people and technology, and how technology can provide value to people. In other words, how technology can be applied for a specific human need. I’m not a tech geek who is purely interested in technology in itself, but it is very exciting what we can do with technology and the fact that technology can be engineered to overcome a wide range of challenges.

After Chalmers University, I had the opportunity to join a graduate program at Volvo, working for the Volvo Group Trucks Technology business unit. They are responsible for product planning, product development, process development and project management of the truck companies within Volvo Group. I worked with project management, feature development and process development. I also took my heavy goods vehicle (HGV) license during that time. By understanding the technology first and then experiencing it myself, I became equipped to understand clients’ needs and challenges.

What a great start to your career! How long did you stay at Volvo Group Trucks Technology and where did you go from there?

I worked Volvo Group Trucks Technology for four years, before I switched over to Volvo IT. I was still working with process development, but this time from an IT perspective. Our job was to analyze clients’ challenges, identify the various needs and validate that we had resolved the client’s challenge.

Then I began hearing about Volvo Penta’s positive reputation within the group for being more agile, not as large-scale as other units within the Volvo Group and for having a familiar atmosphere and culture among the staff. I remember my mentor telling me about Volvo Penta, about the boats and their industrial clients. It all sounded very exciting.

I joined Volvo Penta in the fall of 2012, working within the area of Marine Leisure. It was during this time that I got the opportunity to take my shipmaster’s license. After four years of working as a strategist, and then a year running the product planning department, I was offered a job as vice president of the New Business unit.

It was a very attractive proposition, particularly as I had worked with strategy and product planning before, so it was a role that was close to my heart. At the same time, it also gave me an opportunity to develop into new areas, and the thought of being involved in transformation work and starting up new business sounded fascinating. I pretty much decided to take the job straight away!

New Business Volvo Penta

What is the main function of the New Business unit at Volvo Group?

You could say that New Business is like a mini accelerator or incubator unit for electromobility, connectivity and automation solutions, within the areas of Marine Leisure, Marine Commercial and Industrial at Volvo Penta. It was designed to help Volvo Penta get up and running with the process of creating solutions like this, both from the client’s perspective and from a business viability perspective. Volvo Penta works with clients across a wide spectrum of industries; from mining and forestry to maritime transportation and power generation. 

When you begin to look for creative solutions for new customer needs, you have to approach technology as a means to an end, rather than the end product itself. What I mean is that you can’t get too caught up in the actual technology. Instead, you must focus on finding the value in it. In other words, look for ways of applying technology to a customer’s challenges, and then explore those potential solutions.

For us, it’s also about learning as much as we possibly can when we first start working with a new solution. Understanding the potential benefits for their end customers is a crucial part of the process.

The purpose of New Business is to get projects off the ground, and continue to support them as they progress. It’s not just about finding clever solutions to new challenges. We also lead a lot of transformation work, which is an ongoing process that affects all areas of business, from sales to IT to after sales. This includes everything from designing business solutions to implementing innovative technical solutions that meet the constantly shifting demands of our modern society.

Tell me about your current role as vice president of New Business at Volvo Group.

My role involves overseeing and facilitating transformation work and the management of, for example, investigations, service development and strategic work. My managing tasks include establishing a direction for the team, and ensuring we are all in sync with each other. There are eight people in my team, all dedicated to achieving progress in their respective fields. So my job involves a lot of cross functional alignment and collaboration. 

My team and I are at the epicenter of cutting-edge technology and the new business opportunities it brings. We’re constantly striving towards innovative solutions and exploring fascinating new developments.

It really sounds like you’ve ended up in your dream job! Thank you so much, Hanna, and good luck with whatever challenges come your way in the future. 

I hope you enjoyed reading my interview with Hanna Ljungqvist and if you would like to know more about Volvo Penta, our innovations or our sustainability work, please visit our website, interact with us on social media or read some of the other articles on our professional power blog.

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