Bex Smith joined the Volta Trucks team in July 2021 in our Product and Programming department, where she was key in building a team to help her support her. In this blog post, Bex reflects on her time at Volta Trucks so far.
What is your role at Volta Trucks?
I am the product owner of product data. That is a job title with the word ‘product’ in twice which is a bit confusing to a lot of people, but what it means that I look after all the data related to the truck and how it flows through the business.
What did you do prior to joining the company?
I’ve been with Volta Trucks since July, making me a very old hat, which is strange to think.
I was in my previous company for 7 years, a product data consultancy in the automotive industry, and I only was starting to feel like I knew what I was doing at that point.
Why, after 7 years in your previous company, did you choose to join Volta Trucks?
It was the opportunity to work at a start-up, which is exciting. In this particular case, I would have the option to define processes and systems, which would eliminate all the pitfalls I have seen in some other OEM’s.
I love the industry. I’m a car person. In fact, one of my earliest memories is in the garage with my dad holding the torch whilst he fixed the car, so I was looking for something within the automotive industry. But I also had that feeling that it was no longer good enough to help people make toys. We need to be looking more at transport and commercial vehicles.
A lot of the time in my previous role, it was about making a car that already was doing perfectly good job become redundant and need to be crushed and end up in landfill. In its place would be a car that was slightly faster or slightly more efficient, or has a few more toys in it, like a bigger screen on the dashboard. That’s not inspiring.
What does Volta Trucks mean to you?
Volta Trucks means cleaner air and safer streets.
I don’t think electric vehicles are a silver bullet. I see a lot of people who think if we just have all electric cars everything will be fine. However, we’re still generating power for electric vehicles using fossil fuels, but the more we increase the demand for electricity, the better position the clean fuel lobbyists will be in to get through to government to make it more economically viable to produce more clean energy.
I see Volta Trucks as a part of the overall puzzle in the wider picture, but the puzzle piece has a beautiful shape because it’s not squashing people that we can’t see and it’s not filling the lungs of small children in cities with nasty particulates.
What is your proudest achievement so far at Volta Trucks?
We’ve done loads of cool things with technology and created different systems and processes to do things like supporting us to get ISO accreditation faster than anybody expected us to be able to and some of that relied on some work that I had done, which is really cool.
However, my proudest achievement is definitely my team. So, for me, the achievement is more not giving in to the pressure of start-up workload and instead really resolving to wait until we get great candidates to fill roles.
I now have a team of great, great people who work together well, learn things impressively quickly, seem to make each other better and are all really stepping up.
How do you stay connected to your teammates in both a global and a virtual world?
I have a couple of consistent rules. First one, you should always have your camera on. Even if you’re having a crappy skin day or a bad hair day. Unless you’re literally pouring sweat from your face, keep your camera on.
I also never use background blur, so that means when I’m in a meeting with someone, they can get a view into my living room, which creates a human connection that doesn’t exist if you keep your camera off. I usually sit at the dining table and behind me is a collection of about 12 houseplants that I haven’t killed any of yet (which I’m super proud of) and there’s a photograph of my grandparents and a photograph of my step kids and it’s like just a window into what I truly care about.
What job would you like to have if you didn’t have this one?
I’m torn between two things.
I’d quite like to be a gymnast, a cirque de sole gymnast. But I would need to turn back time and do quite a lot of bending and stretching.
Or, I’d like to work in disasters response. I used to volunteer for the Red Cross in an emergency services support role, so I mostly supported people who had had a domestic fire. These were people who weren’t really sure what they needed, but they knew that their situation wasn’t what they wanted it to be. I really like the idea that you can support somebody when they’re in their darkest time.
What is your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is that I use old-fashioned tools to do cutting-edge, digital thread work.
I can’t function without my paper notebook and coloured fine liners. I’m a very visual thinker and a lot of the work I do doesn’t lend itself to being visual. It’s all 1’s and 0’s. But my notebook is very visual, colourful and it has got all the answers to everything you could possibly want to know in it.
What do you think Volta Trucks is doing to make the transport industry more accessible for women?
I was in my first week when the company was carrying out ergonomic testing for the cab. I was asked to go down to make sure the cab would be comfortable for the average woman to sit comfortably and easily reach the pedals and controls, and there were a number of other women (and men) there of all different shapes and sizes doing the same. It’s nice to know that women’s comfort and needs are being considered.
I think Volta Trucks also quietly normalise women doing ‘men’s job’ by employing women across all departments and using a female driver in our social media material.
If you would like to find out more about Volta Trucks and our mission to make cities safer and more sustainable, you can see where we are on our journey by clicking here. If you are interested in joining the team, please take a look at current openings we have available here.