Meet October’s Member of the Month, Fjollë Novakazi (User Researcher & iPh.D. Candidate, Volvo Cars)

on September 27, 2022

Fjollë Novakazi currently serves as a user Researcher with a focus on users’ perception & understanding of automated driving systems. We caught up with her to ask a few questions, and here’s what she had to say:


Why did you join the Women Automotive Network?

I chose to join because sharing knowledge and our own personal stories is empowering. These moments and connections enable us to learn, grow and dare to be bolder than we were yesterday.


Why is DE&I important to you?

DE&I is important in many regards, and I don’t have to highlights the many benefits a company gains from diversifying their workforce and creating an inclusive environment – those are today very well understood. To me personally it is important to talk about those matters and promote them, in order to raise awareness and educate. I am a child of migrant parents and a woman in a until today highly mail dominated industry, which means I observe DE&I matters with a very sensitive eye. While diverse teams are nowadays common and I find myself in a highly diverse environment, at work as well as in my private life, that does not always mean that all of the actors are included in the conversations we are having or given the same chances to participate in society. The systems we move in, be it institutions or others, are not equitable – diversity alone does not meet inclusion or equity. I do believe that each one of us is accountable and responsible to move beyond and that true DE&I is key to unlocking a society which creates and holds space for the whole spectrum of people to be found out there.


What is the number one automotive trend you are keeping up with currently?

There are so many things going on in the automotive industry these days to keep up with! From a professional perspective I am obviously invested in driving automation, as this is also what my research is about. While the automotive industry has been heavily invested, there are many questions still unanswered. We’re racing ahead with technological developments, so we’ll surely be seeing conditionally self-driving vehicles on the street rather sooner than later. However, looking at the broader picture, there are two trends that have the potential to disrupt our relationship to the car for good, and both are connected to wanting to lead more sustainable lives. One of them would be the mobility-as-a-service sector. People need to get around, and we are inherently creatures of comfort. If we, as a society, manage to create an experience that enables us to continue accessing our habits and needs, we will succeed in creating a shift. This also means, we need to be more human-centric in how we are developing our fast growing cities all over the world. Another trend that I keep a close eye on is obviously the electric vehicle market. Specifically, solutions that enable us to extend the lifespan of our vehicles and consider the whole life-cycle of products, such as battery swapping and strategies to recycle such technologies. I believe that consumers will pay more and more attention to those details and will seek out the brands that support their ethical believes and lifestyle.


What are your predictions for the automotive industry in 2022?

Lao Tzu said “Those who have knowledge don’t predict. Those who predict don’t have knowledge.”, and as a researcher I do prefer to follow this. If I though, were to name something one should follow, based on my observations, it would be to keep an eye out for in-car subscriptions as the next big trend in the automotive industry. Cars are no longer just a vessel to transport us from A to B, but computers that are increasingly connected to networks and their environment. This enables us to update and modify their abilities and features, just like we do with smartphones nowadays. With updates over the cloud, I believe, more and more brands will offer in-car subscriptions for different functionalities, be it safety functions or performance features, and not just apps. How consumers will welcome this trend, remains to be seen!


Who is your inspirational woman?

I wouldn’t be able to name one, as I am surrounded by many amazing women. Throughout my life and career there have been women in all kinds of situations and positions that inspired and motivated me. I strongly believe that we can learn from each other all the time, so I keep an eye and ear out to learn from all the experiences and colours out there.


What is your proudest career moment?

I am currently in the last year of finalizing my Ph.D. research, so I do dare to predict that my proudest career moment lies in the future. I am very excited to defend my thesis next year, so holding off on this one for the moment.


What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome?

One of the greatest challenges I’ve overcome was moving to South Korea. I have lived abroad before, but this was very different. I had to make new friends, learn the language, learn the culture, and adjust to a completely different way of life. What made me successful in the end was my curiosity and interest in learning about new things, so after a rocky start I ended up enjoying my time there more than any experience so far. I learned the language, adjusted to the culture, and made life-long friends – and on the way, I picked up a lot of interpersonal skills that still serve me today.


In one word, what is the opportunity for women in automotive currently?

Innovation by applying the female gaze – evoke emotions and feelings, focus on haptics, interactions, and atmosphere


What advice would you offer to those considering starting a career within the automotive industry?

Dare. It can seem daunting to enter the automotive industry, but I can assure you that not knowledge, but your skills are going to make the difference. Harvest the skills you have collected along the way and see how can apply them to reach your goals. You do not have to know everything before starting the job, just know how to learn.


Catch us with Fjollë Novakazi on LinkedIn

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