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Innovative Mindset in Action

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by Swamy Kotagiri, Magna CTO
December 2, 2019

At Magna, we operate like a startup, but innovate like a technology company. A great example of our innovative mindset in action is the latest version of our Technology Advisory Council, a brain trust that is helping us drive change in the auto industry.

This high-powered group of visionaries, an extension of Magna’s R&D team, will support our technology strategy and business objectives. More importantly, they will challenge us to make sure we are asking the right questions and seeking answers in unexpected places.

It’s a roadmap we’re already following, as we engage with universities and hundreds of startups a year to find and adapt new technology. Many of the ideas generated by this search come from outside of the auto industry; it’s up to us to find an automotive application for them. This next-generation council will push us even further down the path to innovation and new mobility.

Inaugural member Tony Fadell – iPod inventor, Nest founder and principal at Future Shape investment and advisory firm – brings his unique way of thinking to the council.?

Fadell will push us even further to see things in a new light, a critical attitude when you consider that the car is the number-one most complicated consumer electronics product you can buy, one that will become even more complicated as we enter a new transportation era.

Mark Fields, a new council member, is the former Ford Motor Company CEO who became known as the “tech CEO” for his role in launching Ford’s self-driving vehicle development program. He says the car has become “the ultimate technology product.” His insights will be invaluable as Magna heads into the future.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, another new member, was a trailblazer at Daimler AG. He is the man behind what Automotive News called “one of the biggest product upheavals in the company’s century-plus history,” a move that heralds a new generation of battery-electric vehicles across all model series.

As a strategic advisor, Christian Tang-Jespersen, a partner with the ACME venture capital firm, brings a proven track record in developing high-growth technology business to the council.

Technology also is a focus for new member Haitao Zhang, the president of HASCO, one of the largest auto parts companies in China. He has steered the company’s focus toward e-propulsion systems and has put together a network of major global suppliers.

As Magna CTO and a member of the council, I’m looking forward to the energy and ideas that this impressive group will bring to the table. The way we design, define and use cars in the future will be different, and we need to rely on a range of perspectives to point us in the right direction.

Innovative technology companies like Magna encourage resourcefulness and initiative – and persist until they successfully change the game. The council will help us figure out the best way to do that, by challenging the status quo and ensuring our eye is on the future.

Photo of Swamy Kotagiri

Swamy Kotagiri

When we act like a startup, we grasp change, connect the dots, gain insight from unconventional places and never stop learning. By doing this, we develop the building blocks and backbone for solving problems and launching breakthrough products. These insights have guided me through 24 years of industry experience and are helping me to steer Magna into the future.

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