Women in Urban Mobility

Interview with Sara Riera, Head of Energy and Charging at SEAT

Sara Riera
26 November 2021

1. In which area of transport do you work and what are your responsibilities?

I work in automotive, at SEAT S.A. My responsibility is to make sustainable mobility a reality for all our customers. This is a big challenge with a broad spectrum of impact: from short-term solutions -such as for example ensuring a wallbox or a charging-on-the-road service for our customers- to more strategic projects, such as positioning the car as a game changer at the intersection of energy and mobility.

2. What do you think about the project Women in Urban Mobility (project supported by EIT Urban Mobility)?

In other words, do you believe that differences between men and women in the field of mobility/transportation (as user, as worker, etc.) still exist and need to be made more visible?

Automotive has historically been a men-industry, as an employer, but also considering the product we deliver: we all remember plenty of boys playing with cars and not so many girls dreaming of a fancy car for themselves.

But this is no longer so. Already today more than 50% of vehicle purchasing decisions are taken by women. Increasing the rate of women in decision-making processes across the design, development, production and sale of a vehicle is key to ensure their criteria is met.

Many studies point it out: diversity is a driver for innovation. Diverse teams lead to more innovative solutions and more successful results. Ensuring gender diversity in the current mobility transformation is necessary to deliver the best products and services for our future mobility.

Initiatives like Women in Urban Mobility are of utmost importance to both raise awareness of the challenge and also contribute in closing this gender gap in mobility.

3. Was it difficult for you to get to your position? If yes, do you think it would have been easier if you were a man?

Building a successful career is not easy - for anybody. It requires hard work, resilience, perseverance, results. You need to get the opportunity, yes, but it is on you to demonstrate your unique value.

At SEAT S.A. equal opportunities are offered to both men and women and we put a lot of emphasis in minimizing biases in decision-making processes, also in personal development ones. As an example, Dr. Julia Sperling, neuroscientist and Global Leader at McKinsey’s Organization Practice was recently delivering an exclusive session with our Board members to approach unconscious biases and measures to address them. She was as well performing a masterclass with more than 130 managers with the same aim.

4. Are there many women in your work environment? And when you attend important meetings?

In my department women represent more than half of the total employees and we all work together to shape the future of mobility. In many decision-making meetings women are still underrepresented. At SEAT S.A. 21% of our employees are women, and a higher ratio, 26%, is achieved within management. This ratio is one of the highest in the automotive industry – but it is still far from achieving gender parity.

5. What idea/project do you have in mind/underway right now in your work to improve mobility in your sector?

To make the electric car the game changer at the intersection of mobility and energy sectors.