Verena Schödl took on project management and communication at Volvo Cars
After graduating with a Master's degree in Communication, Verena Schödl got a position for two years at Volvo Cars. An exciting and quite demanding job, where she is working with project management and communication and also being responsible for distributing software releases to various parts and projects at Volvo.
Can you describe your position at Volvo?
– Right now I am working as a consultant at Volvo Cars. I work with project management and software releases, together with engineers in a cross functional team. I handle the contact with suppliers and project management regarding deliveries of new software and hardware, and I also have some administrative tasks.
– I am responsible for a specific component in the car, and together with the supplier I am planning the next software release and changes in the hardware for this component. When the delivery is completed it arrives to me first, and I am in charge for forwarding the delivery to various projects within Volvo.
Have you been studying programming..?
– No! My main task is to be the link between the external suppliers and different projects and groups within Volvo Cars, and my work is not technical. The requirements for the component and how the priorities might look like is taken care of by another group. However, I am responsible for follow-up if any defect appears in what has been delivered. I then keep in touch with those who discovered the defect and with those who analyse it.
What is your role as a consultant?
– We are working in an agile team according to something that is called the safe-method, it is more or less like scrum. I am working in the team as ”developer”. In the safe-method we are planning twelve weeks ahead, where we have different features in the order to the supplier. We encourage our stakeholders to give a lot of feedback to the supplier, to get an as well-functioning component as possible. We have technical meetings where we discuss the functionality and try to solve problems that have been detected. My role here is to facilitate the process and try to define obstacles.
– Then we also have the more financial part where we apply for money for development. I need to get information from people with the technical knowledge and “translate” their message to the people with budget responsibility and convince them that we need money to fix a specific problem. Our budget must suffice a wide range of things and I need to understand the problem well enough to be able to argue.
– This job is fun but can be really stressful sometimes!
The best thing about your position?
– In the statistics in Microsoft Teams I can see that I am communicating with 400 different people! It is fun to have such a big network after just one and a half years of employment. I also find it cool that Volvo R&D is very international and the language at work is both English and Swedish.
What in your master’s education have you found most useful so far?
– One of the courses in the programme Master in Communication is about strategic communication and leadership, and that is one of the courses I find useful for what I do now. It was hard for me to end up in such a demanding position in a tech company straight after my master’s education. But I got some time to prepare and then I went through that course again, read about leadership, how to achieve a clear communication in the business and how to hold a good meeting.
– I might have liked to have had more of digital communication in the education, social media and similar platforms. The programme Master in Communication is just about to be restructured and I am part of the Industry Advisory Panel as an alumnus from the programme.
Do you have any ideas for the future?
– I would like to continue this track with project management and planning. I think my contract with Volvo Cars might be prolonged, but I am also a young consultant and I am interested in getting to know a completely new organization and see how things work there.
– I think it is important in general to have some kind of constant development. One main idea of being a consultant is to learn a lot and then share your knowledge. When I was still a student it was something of a dream to work as I do now, at the border between communication and technology. I had a lot of luck when I found this position. But it is also interesting to learn something new. I think two or three years per position is good for your personal development.
Something you would like to add..?
– My year as Head of IT-Section in the Student Union has been important for me. I got a lot of responsibility for the first time: to lead projects, have my own money to distribute, to have a management position. The year was also very important for my skills in the Swedish language. It was the first time I had Swedish as work language – we spoke Swedish almost all the time in the Student Union. I had been taken remote courses in Swedish and now I got the opportunity to practice my knowledge.
Interview: Catharina Jerkbrant, 2021