Just Auto: 2021 was another memorable year for everyone and for all sorts of reasons. We had a bumpy recovery from the worst of the Covid pandemic, but the automotive industry was also hammered by a shortage of semiconductor parts. In your business, what stands out as the biggest challenges you faced last year?

Sripriya Raghunathan: ‘The Great Resignation’ driven in part by people re-evaluating how they want to live their lives in response to the life-changing societal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic stands out for us. This is a recruitment challenge seen particularly across the United States but is affecting companies across the globe. We are taking this as an opportunity to adapt and appeal to new ways of working. Over the past 30 years, our talented employees have revolutionised the in-vehicle experience for drivers and passengers globally, so we know how valuable a rich talent pipeline is to succeed in a competitive market.

JA: Any high spots or particular successes you’d like to share?

SR: I’m very proud of HARMAN for meeting customer expectations and being ahead of the curve in supporting our customers to pre-empt consumer demand, so launching the HARMAN Ignite Store Developers Portal last year (April 2021) was a real highlight. As the cloud continues to drive disruption and opportunity across mobility, the portal, which is a developer hub dedicated to the Android Automotive developer community, applies our decades of expertise across automotive and technology. As a result, we are now helping to connect Android developers with automotive manufacturers so together we can accelerate the creation, deployment, and adoption of personalised in-vehicle apps.

JA: How are you feeling about 2022 – both in terms of business prospects and more generally?

SR: 2022 is going to be bumpy as globally, we continue to learn how to address and cope with new strains of COVID-19 combined with sector-specific issues including parts shortages and attrition. However, we are now better prepared for what is ahead and how to manage these challenges. As a company, we’re uniquely positioned to offer the highly-personalised, in-vehicle experiences that consumers want. Knowing what HARMAN has planned for the year ahead, I’m excited and I think our industry partners will be excited too when we share updates about our offering.

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JA: Is anything emerging as a particular concern in terms of the outlook?

SR: The emergence of new strains of COVID-19 and how the world responds to these will be a key issue for everyone, both personally and professionally. From an automotive-sector perspective, new strains have the real potential to impact commercial business growth again as well as the wider economy—building in resilience is key. From our perspective, despite continued uncertainties, we will remain focused on meeting consumer expectations of their in-vehicle experience as it mirrors evolving consumer habits outside of the car, reflecting mobile, home and media use.

JA: Do you have a message for Just Auto’s readers? 

SR: We are all experiencing the transformation of mobility within society through the wider adoption of electric vehicles, autonomous driving and software-defined vehicles, culminating to contribute to the development of smart cities and net-zero commitments. These emerging innovations will lead us to a sustainably-improved future but there will be challenges along the way. We must unite to face each emerging challenge with a common goal if we are all to support the successful evolution of our industry.