What is it like moving from the UK to Gothenburg? We asked that question to Stuart Templar, Director of Sustainability at Volvo Cars, who changed careers and now lives in Gothenburg. Here, the Manchester-born ex-diplomat tells how he experiences the lifestyle and work in Gothenburg.
"For me, the best thing about living in Sweden and Gothenburg is the quality of life. I am able to achieve a great work-life balance and spend lots of time with my family. I also have easy access to one of the most beautiful natural environments in Europe."
These are the words of Stuart Templar, a Manchester-born former diplomat and Director of Sustainability at Volvo Cars.
After 16 years with the UK Foreign Office, Stuart Templar is now in his third year as Director of Sustainability at Volvo Cars in Gothenburg, Sweden. As a diplomat, he used to travel all over Europe, working on a variety of topics including human rights, EU affairs, as well as an international marketing campaign to promote Britain overseas (for which he received an honor from HM The Queen). He traded in all of this for a life by the sea on the outskirts of Gothenburg, with his partner Monika and son Kasper, 5. And he’s never looked back since.
"I really appreciate the little things you take for granted here. Being able to cycle with my son in safe bicycle lanes, going swimming in the sea, exploring the wonderful west coast islands, and spending a day with the family in Liseberg."
Proximity to nature and the sea is a big part of why Stuart loves his life in Sweden. But he also acknowledges the value of the family-oriented work culture.
"In Sweden, I feel people work to live rather than live to work. Moreover, the working culture, including at Volvo, is incredibly supportive of parents. Colleagues very rarely work late into the evening, or feel they have to, which I often did while in the UK. It’s easy to take a day or two off just to take care of your child, and no-one bats an eyelid if you have to leave a meeting early to pick them up. Finally, childcare is of a high standard and affordable – around 10 per cent of what friends in London pay."
Even if Stuart loves his family life in Sweden – he also loves his job. It’s an exciting time to be working on sustainability within Volvo Cars, with the issue now a high priority within the company.
"For me, my proudest moment since I joined Volvo was in October 2019 when we launched our first fully electric vehicle, the XC40 Recharge, and announced our ambition to become climate neutral by 2040. This was a major milestone in the company’s history. We publically recognized we contribute to climate change and have to do much more to help protect the planet, in the same way we’ve protected people over many decades. Our CEO made clear that sustainability is now as important as safety to Volvo Cars. It’s critical to our future success, not least as consumers increasingly want more sustainable products. A truly purpose-driven company is key to attracting and retaining the best talent."
Around 40,000 people work within the automotive industry in Gothenburg. Stuart calls the Gothenburg region ‘the automotive archipelago’ with Volvo, CEVT, Geely, Zenuity and Polestar (where Monika works) all operating in the region.
"In many ways I feel that Gothenburg is helping shape the future of the automotive business – it’s an innovation hub. The companies within the region, often in collaboration with local academic and research institutes, are at the cutting edge of seismic trends which are transforming the industry, such as autonomous drive technology, electrification and mobility services. And they are based in a city which is itself committed to sustainable transportation, with AB Volvo’s electric buses rolling along the streets and Stena’s battery hybrid ferries sailing to Germany and Denmark every day."
For Stuart, moving to Sweden was never the plan. In one of life’s twists of fate, he met his Swedish partner Monika, at a wedding in Romania, fell in love with her and the west coast of Sweden, and eventually found his place at Volvo.
"I’m really enjoying life in Sweden and Gothenburg. I work on an issue that I’m passionate about, in an attractive city and region that values openness and innovation, and, most importantly, in a country where I am supported in being a good parent. Besides family and old friends, the only things I miss are British pubs – but you can’t have everything!"
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