Chris Hillman, Acting Design Director VCE, Product Design8/17/17
When I joined Mack Trucks in 2002, I was vaguely aware of its place in the Volvo Group, but I soon began to grasp the opportunities that come with working for a global company. In 2006, I met my Swedish wife, Anna-Lena – she used to work for the Volvo Group too and, at the time, she was on a job rotation in Allentown, Pennsylvania. We got married in Sweden and moved back to the U.S. together, but I always kept an eye on the opportunities in the Gothenburg office.
Working at the Gothenburg Design Studio
We moved to Gothenburg four years ago, after I got a job heading up product design for wheel loaders with Volvo Construction Equipment (VCE). Cutting-edge work is done at all our sites, but the Design Studio in Gothenburg has a particularly great variety. When a position became available there, I jumped at the opportunity.
I’m part of an incredibly creative team that works in everything from the interaction and graphic design, to Color, Material and Fabric (CFM) design. I still head up wheel loader product design, but I’m also the Acting Design Director for the whole of VCE.
I’m thrilled to be with a company like the Volvo Group that’s at the cutting edge of new technology
Plenty of variety
As a designer of construction equipment, by role is incredibly varied. I get to work on everything from the small compact machines that you see on your neighborhood sidewalk, to projects involving vehicle autonomy and electro-mobility features for some of our most sophisticated, state-of-the-art applications.
Coming from the U.S., I never could have imagined the terrific work-life balance that people have here in Sweden. The flexible schedule makes it a lot easier to have a family. I also really enjoy the international atmosphere and getting to interact with and learn from people from different countries and cultures every single day.
When I was still in the States, people used to come back from trips to Sweden and tell us about this strange coffee-break ritual known as fika. As an American, I was initially skeptical about fika as it didn’t seem like a good way to spend my working hours, but these days I’m a total convert! Fika time is an essential part of the day when you get to ask people the things you’ve been forgetting to talk to them about all week, while they’re across the table from you eating cake.
So far, my 15 years at the Volvo Group have been quite a journey. What advice would I give to a young designer who’s thinking about joining the Volvo Group? Don’t hesitate!
My advice to a young designer who’s thinking about joining the Volvo Group? Don’t hesitate!