Actionable Advice for Mobility Industry Leaders: Insights From the Jessica Robinson Interview with Katelyn Davis

Actionable Advice for Mobility Industry Leaders: Insights From the Jessica Robinson Interview with Katelyn Davis

Watch the full video on YouTube 👈

Katelyn Davis knows how to create a personal brand. She’s a marketing expert with diverse experiences in mobility, making her the perfect person to help Jan deconstruct her recent interview with Assembly Ventures’s co-founder Jessica Robinson. 

New mobility — especially for EVs and autonomous vehicles — is a fast-moving, rapidly changing industry driven by startups. Katelyn says the internal company dynamics are different from what she's experienced in traditional automotive, and leaders are the ones who can empower others and create a positive company culture.

“It's now about who has the ability to…inspire people,” Katelyn says. “Who can make the culture be better? Who's cracking jokes here or there? It's really fun to see how you can have different leaders come out of your organization.”

Jan and Katelyn discuss the importance of giving professional development opportunities to everyone on a team. Effective mobility leadership requires the right mindset to maintain a stable team culture in a constantly evolving work environment.

Reflecting on Jessica Robinson’s advice that leaders should sit with their fears rather than quickly push through them, Jan and Katelyn draw practical takeaways. Leaders should welcome honest discussions and constructive feedback, and they should be quick to say no rather than be “too nice.” It’s also important for leaders to embrace all professional backgrounds and recognize the validity of non-linear journeys into a particular workspace.

Join Jan and Katelyn to find out what dancing, bingo, and tier-one suppliers have in common. Reinventing company culture can happen at the team level, even if no other group in the corporation operates the same way.

Themes discussed on this episode: 

  • How new mobility startups differ from traditional automotive
  • The importance of setting a positive tone in a company culture
  • Having the right mindset for an ever-changing work environment
  • What it means for leaders to sit with their fears
  • Why honest feedback and disagreement are vital to a team’s success
  • Advice for mobility industry leaders

Featured Guest: Katelyn Davis

What she does: Katelyn is the communications lead at Cavnue and the co-founder of Women Driven Mobility. She is also a board member of the Automotive Public Relations Council (APRC) and a member of Inforum's AutomotiveNEXT.

On leadership: “You don't necessarily need to be the person with 35 years of experience, who's managed a hundred people over the course of their career…It's now about who has the ability to lead people, inspire people…who can make the culture be better.”

Episode Highlights

Timestamped inflection points from the show

[0:58] Welcome back: Jan introduces Katelyn, a former guest and ambassador for millennials and mobility. Katelyn is recognized for sticking to her value system and her personal brand. 

[2:41] Build who you are: From her first interview with Jan, Katelyn recalls entering the workforce during a recession and recaps her professional journey from working for traditional automotive companies to late-stage mobility startups to her current role with a company building road infrastructure for autonomous vehicles.

[7:08] Mobility moves faster: In Jessica Robinson’s interview, Jessica shared that new mobility may not have the traditional customer-supplier relationship we’re used to in automotive. Katelyn agrees. New mobility is aggressive, fast-moving and largely dependent on startup funding.

[9:15] Set the tone: Jan and Katelyn discuss how the culture of the mobility industry has impacted internal company operation dynamics. Emerging leaders are the ones who can inspire others in the organization and set a positive tone in the company culture.

[13:11] Share the mic: More and more, companies are offering professional development opportunities. It’s important for leaders to uplift their staff and value their opinions. 

[14:55] 21 traits: Jessica Robinson said that of the 21 traits of authentic leadership, mindset resonated with her the most. Katelyn agrees that the right mindset can help leaders thrive in a fast-changing company environment.

[16:07] Embrace your fear: Acknowledging fear leads to greater self-awareness. Katelyn compares the process to leaning into a stretch in yoga.

[19:54] Just say no: Jan’s mantra for 2023 will be Jessica’s quote: “A fast no is better than death by a thousand meetings.” Many mobility startups are still in a honeymoon phase during which everyone is too nice to each other. Honest discussions help good work get done quickly.

[22:52] Advice for auto industry leaders: Many startups focus their messaging on consumers, but their primary business will be with the supplier network, not end users. Companies need to consider their audience.

[25:39] Roundabout way: Jessica’s pathway into the mobility industry resonated with Katelyn. Hiring managers need to recognize the validity of non-linear journeys to an industry.

[30:12] Disrupting auto: Jan and Katelyn share unique ways leaders can reinvent company culture even in the traditional automotive industry.

[36:01] Closing comments: Katelyn encourages company leaders to stop looking at things so linearly, to humanize themselves, and to include more people as decision-makers. 

Top quotes

[24:00] Katelyn: “In mobility, most of this technology is not going to be acquired by you and [me] at Best Buy. We're not going to go out and buy a LiDAR sensor…the grand majority of all of the mobility tech, or any automotive tech, is really coming through the supplier network.”

[30:21] Jan: “We have the power to choose who we want to be…and how we show up and what our brand is all about. But we also have the power to choose what we want our companies to be.”

[34:10] Jan: “Start changing things up, people. Why do we feel that we've got to be so straight-laced and fit this mold, otherwise we're going to be judged and we're not going to be liked. Get over it.”