IAA Voices Conference Special: Interview Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles
On 1 September 2021, Ulrich Proske took over as Head of Strategy, Cooperations & Product Management at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWN). The graduate industrial engineer has been working for the Volkswagen Group for more than 25 years, during which time his duties took him to India, among other places, where he was CFO of VW Group India for three years.
Imagine you’re in a time-machine on the way “back to the future”! In which year would you like to get out and why?
I’d like to travel back to the 1950s or ‘60s and experience the Volkswagen T1 live, getting business moving in the young republic as part of the Economic Miracle. To experience that spirit, which still sets our company apart today, would truly be a dream for me.
Were you to have a super power that could help you professionally, what would it be?
That’s easy! I’ll stick with time travel, but jump now into the future, around 15 to 20 years ahead. Not as a super power for my present job, but so that I can already experience even now the outcome of our current work and transformation. Because at that time we’ll be seeing MaaS and TaaS solutions (Mobility as a Service and Transport as a Service) using self-driving vehicles as an integral part of our everyday life. The great thing about this dream is that unlike the journey into the past, I will get to experience that future for real.
What trends are you following with great interest at present professionally?
They’re the issues that are greatly occupying our sector at the moment and that we at Volkswagen and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles are actively shaping: electrification and digitalisation, always against the backdrop of sustainability. And the development of autonomous driving. For us as vehicle manufacturers and developers, these trends go to the very essence of our business and are currently driving a variety of different sectors.
What was for you the biggest game-changer in the logistics or transport sector in the last ten years?
It would be too simple to cite data and/or the use of data here, as data is fundamentally influencing and changing almost all sectors. In the transportation sector on the other hand I don’t see any one game-changer, but rather a systematic, evolutionary development: city-centre transportation solutions ranging all the way to the last mile, decentralised hubs, new delivery possibilities (driven by data), enormous demands and possibilities as a result of e-commerce and an extremely exciting outlook with TaaS solutions combined with all-electric self-driving vans.
What innovation do you currently see internationally as a blueprint for climate neutrality?
The pure act of making vehicles electric was without doubt the initial spark on the way to sustainable mobility. But as a blueprint that’s not enough. The latter was created at the moment that we in our sector and especially in our Group began to look at the supply chains, production and the usage phase as well and in doing so set out on the way to climate neutrality – our wayTOzero. I see this holistic view as a blueprint for other sectors too, in order to really achieve the important goal of becoming climate neutral.
What are you hoping for from the IAA TRANSPORTATION?
First and foremost, I’m delighted that following the IAA Mobility we now also have an IAA Transportation show with an analogue presence and digital offerings. The pandemic has shown us over the last two years that interaction between people can function digitally, but nothing beats face-to-face conversations.
For our industry the IAA Transportation can be a catalyst that speeds up the urgently needed transformation to sustainable mobility in the transportation sector. As a brand we can get a lot moving, but in order to achieve the objective we need the entire industry, society and political sector.
What are you particularly looking forward to at the IAA Conference?
The interaction that I’ve just mentioned with other experts from the sector and many related areas. I’ve always found these exchanges very interesting and personally very enriching. And all of it on our doorstep in Hannover – I’m looking forward to being there in September 2022.
On 1 September 2021, Ulrich Proske took over as Head of Strategy, Cooperations & Product Management at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWN). For Proske, it was a quick return to VWN: in May 2021, he took over as Head of Controlling Sales and New Business Areas in the Group - before that, he had already worked for more than ten years in Hanover as Head of Product Controlling at VWN. During this time, he played a key role in the Ford Volkswagen Alliance as the person responsible for the financial structure of the cooperation. The graduate industrial engineer has been working for the Volkswagen Group for more than 25 years, during which time his duties took him to India, among other places, where he was CFO of VW Group India for three years.