An Interview with Hyundai Mobis Product Manager, Berveleen Mashonga

WA (WardsAuto): Can you share your experiences working in the global automotive market and how it has influenced your passion for the industry?

BM (Berveleen Mashonga): I have had the great opportunity to work with the German OEMs on various projects through-out the years. I remember in my very first project after university, I visited a production line and I got to speak with people working, and learn about the various processes that are prepared before, during and after production. I travelled around Europe frequently, visiting different customers and production lines.

This was a really enlightening experience for me and it triggered my curiosity of the various aspects about the vehicle. From the moment I stepped into this dynamic and ever-evolving industry, I was captivated by its sheer scale, complexity, and the profound impact it has on our lives.

I wanted to learn more about vehicle technology, and ways to make the road safer. As of late, I am greatly intrigued by how engineering is implemented into for example smart parking. Understanding how the program is designed and upgraded at each stage.

WA: As an international public speaker, can you discuss your insights and expertise on automotive technologies? How do you see the future of mobility and in-vehicle experience evolving?

BM: Being an international public speaker means I get to connect with individuals from all over the world, from different professional backgrounds. We have various discussions about the automotive industry’s trajectory which helps to give great insight into the market.

The industry is always undergoing a seismic shift, driven by the convergence of technological breakthroughs, shifting consumer preferences, and environmental concerns. A few key trends we should expect to see are: 

  • Electrical vehicle: as we see in todays world, EVs are gaining more momentum driven by sustainability. 
  • Connectivity and AI : vehicles are increasingly being integrated to our everyday lives such as our homes, phones and more. AI is also playing a major role in automotive technology, from advanced driver-assistance systems to predictive maintenance.
  • Shared Mobility and Micromobility: The rise of ride-hailing services and the emergence of micromobility options like car sharing and bikes are changing the way we get around cities. These services are offering new and convenient ways to travel, reducing reliance on personal vehicles. This topic usually also falls under sustainability. We are already seeing the demand rising for organisations to be more sustainable.

When looking at vehicle technology, in-vehicle experience is evolving and we already saw fascinating technologies at CES. Personalization is one of the topics at the forefront especially as vehicles are becoming increasingly connected, integrating with smartphones, smart homes, and other devices. This connectivity will enable a wide range of new features and services, such as remote vehicle diagnostics, personalized infotainment systems, and seamless integration with smart home automation.

The in-vehicle experience  is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by advancements in technology and changing consumer expectations. Vehicles will become more personalized and engaging, with features like augmented reality navigation, virtual reality entertainment, and haptic feedback systems. These advancements will make the journey more enjoyable and productive, and they will help to differentiate vehicle brands and experiences.

WA: How do you approach networking with other industry professionals and what value do you see in fostering new connections?

BM: As an automotive industry professional, I believe that networking with other industry experts is crucial for professional development, staying abreast of the latest trends, and expanding career opportunities. I approach networking with a mindset of open-mindedness, genuine interest, and a willingness to learn from others. 

When I network, I employ various strategies such as:

  • Attend and participate in automotive conferences. This allows me to meet a wide range of industry experts. I actively partake in workshops including networking sessions to engage with peers.
  • Volunteering for industry organizations which has created a space for me to meet incredible women in the automotive industry.

WA: You founded WOISE (Women in STEM Empowerment) can you describe the impact WOISE makes to girls and women who aspire to or are working in automotive?

BM: When I founded WOISE, I knew that I wanted to work with girls and women to support them in the different stages of their STEM journey. When we look at society today, we try to encourage more girls to join STEM. However , I feel that when the STEM journey begins, there is not enough support. And sometimes the numbers start to drop or there is no direct support and information directed at girls about the different opportunities that are available for them.

As a woman who works in the STEM environment, I can attest and say , there are not enough strategies being implemented by organisations to support women within the working environment. 

We need to implement different ideas and plans to ensure that girls and women are supported at all stages in their careers and through motherhood.

Currently, I mentor women and graduates on their career path to help them through the different paths in their career. One of my favourite aspect, is being able to speak with girls at schools and participate in activities that include teaching to them about the automotive industry.

WA: What motivated you to become an active member of the Women Automotive Network?

BM: As a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion in the automotive industry, I was immediately drawn to the Women Automotive Network (WAN) when I first learned about it. The organization’s mission to empower women, promote mentorship, and foster a supportive community for women in the industry resonated deeply with my own values and aspirations.

Several factors motivated me to become an active member of WAN:

  • The desire to amplify female voices: I believe that women have a unique perspective to offer in the automotive industry. WAN provides a platform for women to share their expertise, insights, and ideas, ensuring that their voices are heard and valued.
  • The need for a supportive community: As a woman in a male-dominated field, I often felt isolated and overlooked. WAN provides a safe space where women can connect, share experiences, and offer mutual support. It’s a place where I can be myself, learn from others, and find inspiration.
  • The commitment to mentorship and career development: WAN’s mentorship programs provide invaluable opportunities for women to connect with experienced professionals who can guide and support their career growth. These connections can open doors to new opportunities and help women achieve their professional goals.

Since joining WAN, I have found a wealth of opportunities to connect with like-minded women, learn from their experiences, and contribute to the organization’s mission. I have participated in networking events, mentoring programs, and advocacy initiatives, and I am continually inspired by the collective strength and determination of the WAN community

WA: What is one piece of advice you’d give to young women considering a career in STEM?

BM: One piece of advice I would give to young people who want to pursue a career in STEM is to: Embrace your passion and don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t belong

The STEM fields are incredibly diverse and offer a wide range of exciting opportunities for women to make a real impact. However, there is still a perception that STEM is a male-dominated field, and young women may face discouragement or doubt from others. It’s important to remember that your passion and determination are more important than any gender stereotypes.

Follow your curiosity and pursue the subjects that genuinely interest you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, seek out mentors, and challenge yourself to learn new things. The more you engage with STEM, the more you will realize that it is a field where your skills and talents are valued and appreciated.

WA: Where do you go to stay up to date on the latest trends and technologies in AutoTech?

BM: There are various automotive news platforms that I use but I would say LinkedIn has become one of my favourite spaces to read about automotive news.

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