In these extraordinary times, we sought snapshot perspectives from around the global auto industry on current macro developments and a take on prospects for 2021. In particular, we wanted a diverse range of perspectives and viewpoints from people in the industry. In this first of a series we will publish this month, we hear from Amanda Roble, General Manager, SABIC’s automotive business.
j-a: 2020 was a pretty memorable year for everyone and for all sorts of reasons. In your business, what stand out as the biggest challenges you faced this year?
AR: Our team has always thrived on connecting and engaging with people so the sudden loss of in-person, face-to-face communication was a big challenge. The pandemic struck at the very heart of how we like to interact with our customers and industry colleagues, but our team pivoted quickly. They fully embraced technology and virtual operations, and this allowed us to stay close to our customers and the industry at a time when it was vital to be physically distanced.
j-a: What did you learn that you did not expect to learn?
AR: If you had told me a year ago that the automotive industry would shut down globally, I wouldn’t have believed you. Of course, that’s exactly what happened – but what happened next has left the greatest impression. Our large industry became very small and tight, coming together in new ways to shift automotive manufacturing from parts and cars to medical supplies and personal protective equipment. We contributed to this in many ways, including providing materials and expertise to support the production of life-saving ventilators and face masks. We are grateful to be part of an industry community that is a true force for good around the globe.
j-a: And as we come to the end of the year and looking back on it, can you summarise how you feel?
AR: In a word, optimistic. That’s how we feel. Even looking back, we see an industry that has not let up on advancing next-generation automotive technologies as they respond to the pressing challenges and trends in front of them. Our team has been and will continue to move in lockstep with the industry because we know that our support is needed to help clear the path for innovation and growth. We are looking forward to another productive year of collaborative problem-solving.
j-a: Specifically on prospects for 2021. It’s obviously an unusual time in the context of the uncertainties ahead for all of us, but can you say something about how you are approaching the new year?
AR: We are staying the course. Our global team has been weathering the storm, and I’m inspired by the way we and others have risen to the challenge. We need to continue to be a strong partner that the industry can rely on. That means a lot of things, from being agile and flexible with customers as we go through the current crisis to providing the support needed to make progress in areas such as electrification and sustainability. We are committed to do exactly that.
j-a: Do you have a message for the readers?
AR: The situation is different right now depending on the country, but this is still a global threat. Knowing that, we encourage everyone to stay ultra-focused on safety. We can’t let our guards down. Another message: continue being open to change. We’ve all had to adopt new behaviors and consider new ways of solving problems, and I think all of us can benefit from this willingness to adjust, long after the pandemic passes.