We live in a world where sustainable business practices flourish. It is a world where businesses are committed to reducing their environmental impact and creating a more sustainable future. In this realm, businesses use renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power to help the environment, their employees and the community to grow perpetually.
This vision is becoming a reality under the guidance of Angela Hultberg, a distinguished figure in the realm of global sustainability. Angela is currently a Global Sustainability Director at Kearney and has been instrumental in assisting clients in their transformation towards genuine sustainability.
With expertise spanning sustainable transformation, transport, ESG, circularity, and supply chain management, Angela remains a trailblazer. In the niche of Business Consulting and Services—embodied by Kearney’s ethos—Angela’s story stands as a testament to turning ambitious ideals into tangible realities.
Let’s explore Angela’s journey to sustainable transformation and her impact on global sustainability!
Could you share a bit about your background and how you became involved in the EV industry?
It happened accidentally, truthfully. Originally training as a tax lawyer, I began my career in international corporate tax consulting. Swiftly, I realized that path wasn’t my fit. Fortunately, Scania, the Swedish truck manufacturer, extended an offer to join their trainee program—an opportunity I eagerly seized, craving anything but tax law.
Shifting gears, I ventured into IKEA Transport. Here, I recognized the imminent disruption sustainability concerns was causing in the transport and automotive industries, urging action against emissions and air pollution.
Deciding this was what I wanted to do with my career I changed tracks, and eventually assumed leadership roles at IKEA, focusing on sustainable transport.
My journey led me to the Climate Champions and COP26, launching the ZEV declaration among other things. Now at Kearney, I guide clients on sustainable transformations, logistics decarbonization and value generation in this realm.
What personally drives your passion for electric vehicles and sustainable transportation solutions?
It just needs to be done. We need to decarbonize. We need to stay below 1.5 degrees. We need to make sure that people can breathe air that is not toxic. I want to know that I did my part to make that happen. Electric vehicles are the best solution we have and I will do my very best to make sure we accelerate the pace of the transition.
Can you highlight a defining moment or experience that reaffirmed your commitment to the EV sector?
Personally, a standout moment was collaborating within IKEA retail on achieving 100% zero-emission last-mile deliveries. We targeted 5 global cities, transitioning from zero to 100% EVs in a mere few years—a monumental challenge.
Despite the uncertainty, we communicated our intent externally. Notably, Shanghai, a vast metropolis, achieved this in under a year. Through teamwork, partnerships and determination, it was accomplished within 9 months in 2019—pioneering such an initiative. This success affirmed the feasibility of the right investment. Since then, my conviction remains unwavering: it’s attainable, essential and inevitable!
Every journey has its obstacles. How have you overcome challenges while paving the way in the EV industry?
Perseverance is key in the transport/automotive industry. Many are skeptical initially; our task is to enlighten them. Demonstrating functionality and value is crucial. Throughout my journey, I’ve encountered constant skepticism—range, costs, energy sources, weather concerns, charging infrastructure—endlessly. Yet, every success convinces skeptics, influencing change in mindset.
Patience is essential (although I have precious little of it). Admittedly, some doubts persist, akin to unpopped popcorn kernels. Eventually, a decision is needed to leave them and progress forward.
How would you describe your leadership style and philosophy when navigating the dynamic landscape of EVs?
I work in business, so my focus is always to show the value of transitioning to EVs. Very few will do it only for altruistic reasons, they want to see the business case.
I try to figure out what is keeping people and companies from implementing changes and then I do my very best to provide solutions and ways to overcome those barriers. We already know what we need to do, now we need to support others to find out how to do it as fast and good as possible.
Have there been mentors or influencers who have significantly impacted your journey in the EV sector?
In the beginning, there was a touch of solitude, yet companionship was never far. I connected with remarkable individuals like John Boesel and Bill van Amburg at Calstart, who imparted invaluable wisdom and still serve as my inspiration. At IKEA, numerous incredible colleagues enriched my journey, including the ever-effective Raphael Guillard.
Working alongside Sandra Roling of EV100, Erik Björke of EV100+ and the Climate Group team has been a privilege. Time with Climate Champions introduced me to global trailblazers like Jamie Plotnek, Monica Arya, Mohammed Hegazy and Nigel Topping. Industry experts such as Andreas Follér (Scania), Fredrika Klarén (Polestar), Kristen Siemen (GM) and countless others continue to fuel my inspiration.
Could you share a personal example of how your innovative mindset has contributed to advancements in the EV industry?
I am a people person, so I work a lot through relationships. I do think the work we did at COP26 was a game changer, having companies like GM, Ford, Volvo cars, JLR and others signing the ZEV declaration and telling the world we should have an end of ICE by 2035, along with governments, regions, fleet owners and many more. It took months of negotiations, many discussions and a lot of trust-building, but we got there in the end.
How do you actively contribute to inspiring and nurturing young talent interested in pursuing a career in electric mobility?
How could you not get inspired by this, it is so exciting! Since I have the privilege of working with this every day, I also get to talk about it a lot. I’m sure my younger colleagues are getting tired of hearing me go on and on about it honestly!
I try and make sure to talk about this every chance I get honestly, at conferences, in schools and at recruiting events. It is a very exciting field, with lots of technology changes, disruption and the opportunity to have a real impact, who wouldn’t want to work with that?!
Looking forward, what legacy would you like to leave behind in the EV industry and what vision do you hold for its future?
My vision is to have a world where transport and mobility are sustainable, available, affordable and safe for everyone. We desperately need to electrify, but we also need to make sure we don’t just buy new EVs in the north and send our ICE to the south.
We need a just transition, we need to think of mobility as a whole and that includes safety for women on public transport, it involves many modes of transportation, cities built to encourage bikes, shared mobility systems, and much more. I hope my legacy is that I did all I could to make that future happen.