Manufacturing Industry Leaders Dinner - The Changing Dynamics of Mobility

Manufacturing Industry Leaders Dinner - The Changing Dynamics of Mobility
Published: 5 July 2019

Berwick Partners’ Manufacturing & Engineering Practice were delighted to host our latest leadership dinner last night. A broad range of Managing Directors and Non-Executives shared their views on what is a rapidly changing transportation landscape. The acronym ACES (Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared) encapsulated the revolution in transportation that is underway. David Thomas, a Partner in Berwick Partners' Manufacturing and Engineering Practice explains the insights from the event.

It was clear from the atmosphere in the room, and the range of topics discussed, that the subject of future mobility is both exciting and complex. The regulatory landscape, safety, cyber security, power sources, environmental impact, connectivity, infrastructure and competition were amongst the subjects keenly debated.

  1. Regulatory Landscape – can this keep pace and how do you strike the right balance between proactive and reactive regulation across international borders, that protects both people and the planet, whilst not stifling innovation?
  2. Safety – how do we establish trust in autonomous vehicles and where does responsibility rest from an accident and insurance perspective?
  3. Cyber Security – securing systems throughout the tiered supply chain is critical.
  4. Power Sources – battery technology, electrical charging stations and the development of alternative technologies such as fuel cells.
  5. Environmental Impact – providing vital opportunities for us to live in a cleaner, more sustainable way.
  6. Connectivity - becoming more vital than the mechanics of the vehicle, creating a new consumer electronics value chain ripe with opportunities.
  7. Infrastructure – distinctions between rural and urban infrastructure with vast construction requirements to revolutionise the layout of cities.
  8. Competition - the complexity and pace of change requires organisations to think differently about competition and where they can collaborate to ensure everyone wins. Agility will be key. 

The move from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles is accelerating, bolstered by this week’s news that Jaguar Land Rover is investing hundreds of millions of pounds to build a range of electric vehicles at its Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham. It is hard to envisage how quickly things are going to change. I currently commute in a diesel car and am trying to visualise a not too distant future where I am commuting in a driverless electric vehicle.

The depth of infrastructure and product changes underway have brought into sharp focus the cyber security challenges that lie ahead. In the short-term, Brexit is a massive distraction from one of the great global challenges of our age - how to sustainably and safely advance technology in a rapidly changing world.

Opportunities are evidenced by staggering valuations for fledgling businesses focussed in the connected and autonomous transportation environment. Waymo, with a small current revenue stream from its pilot driverless taxi project in Phoenix, is attracting market valuations as high as $250billion. Morgan Stanley estimates an urban aviation market of $1.5trillion by 2040. Electric vehicles are easier to engineer so barriers to entry are lower. Identifying the winners and losers in this market will be fraught with investment danger and timing will be vital.

As leadership search practitioners we are constantly evaluating skills requirements for the future, providing essential trusted advice that can support our clients’ people challenges when the need for change arises. Search professionals will need to think deeply about the increased connectivity in the new global eco-system, and provide a more holistic, multi-industry solution than perhaps is the norm today. 

At Berwick Partners we collaborate across our practices, encouraging cross-sector thinking, and challenging our clients to think more broadly about how they will navigate the threats and opportunities to their business. 

Thank you to all who attended the dinner and contributed to the debate.

David Thomas is a Partner in Berwick Partners’ Manufacturing & Engineering Practice.

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