Introducing Seth Vogel
In January 2021, Seth Vogel took on the role of Managing Director, Automotive & Mobility at Star.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
What prompted your interest in working with and for the Automotive & Mobility industry?
I’ve always been a gearhead. I’ve been working on cars, trucks, motorcycles and the like since I was 13. I love building things, figuring out how they work and then figuring out how to make them better, and I apply that approach to all areas of my life. So I love working with people, understanding them and then helping them become better versions of themselves. The same applies to companies. I enjoy finding out what they do, understanding their value proposition and then helping them improve.
How has this interest played out over the course of your career?
I started my career quite early in manufacturing, as I supported myself while getting my undergraduate and master’s degrees. I worked on the ground in a machine shop, learning all about lean manufacturing processes. From there, I went on to work in the industry for a large Tier 1 automotive company, where I got the chance to learn about operations management and became a global technology lead. This really gave me the perspective of being in the client’s shoes, and understanding what it’s like to implement the recommendations that consultants often provide. I was still eager to learn, so I went into consulting and started working for Deloitte Consulting focusing on automotive and aerospace & defense companies. I learned a ton about how to do big consulting well but wanted to see the more entrepreneurial side. I then joined Slalom Consulting, and helped them build an Automotive & Mobility practice along with the Detroit local business. I spent four years basically building the office and industry from the ground up while working with great people. That’s what led me to Star.
What made you decide to work for Star?
From the very beginning of the recruitment process, I was really impressed with all of the individuals I spoke with. You could tell from the conversations the amount of passion and excitement they had for the growth of the company. In addition to the quality and passion of the people, the type of work Star is doing was so aligned and focused on the future, partnering with clients to develop the future of the mobility industry and how to make them successful. Some people are operators and some are builders – always looking for ways to improve things. I’m definitely in the latter category, and that’s what attracted me to Star, because it’s focused on building and growing for the future with a global mindset.
What was it like to start this position in the middle of a global pandemic?
Star was ahead of the curve in terms of their operating with global teams. Star’s ability to collaborate with people and clients has never been based on physical locations or geographies. They really do act as a global company – and that has enabled them to continue to operate very well, even during this pandemic. You still feel like you’re part of the team no matter where you are in the world and this diversity of thought strengthens our team.
Where do you think the Automotive & Mobility industry is headed?
The industry has had major pivots and we are currently in the middle of the next one where both consumer preferences and technology are both changing dramatically. There is evidence of this by the countless new entrants to the market trying to figure out what the future of mobility is going to be. It’s an interesting time, although it’s not sustainable for all companies longer term. I think we’re going to see a reduction in the number of companies within the industry and an increase in consolidations or partnerships. Take autonomous driving as an example. It takes such an astronomical investment, most companies can’t do that on their own – they need a partner or partners to share the development costs.
I believe the future of the industry will be shaped by human centered design but throttled by societal & cultural acceptance along with aging government regulations. If we look at autonomous driving, the speed of adoption isn’t stopped by technological limitations only, but legislative ones, liability and insurance issues that haven’t been solved yet. In city centers, we see a flurry of experimentation with micromobility, products that service people in a range of 5 miles or less. Shared mobility has been paused because of the pandemic so adoption will be slower. In other areas, however, that’s where you’ll see the adoption of EVs and autonomous solutions for longer-range journeys, particularly as the price of battery development comes down, and the price points for EVs become more affordable for the average consumer.
What is your vision for Star’s Automotive & Mobility offering?
For automotive, Star has a deep expertise around design, and we’ll continue to evolve design to improve the customer omnichannel experience. However, we’ll also expand our focus, so we look at how we can improve the entire customer lifecycle, starting with digital retail, whether that be mobile / web or connected devices – to the actual vehicle, focusing on the human machine interface and supporting companion applications. We’ll continue supporting customers from a design perspective and then enabling them with our software engineering expertise. Star has a great legacy of building digital, creative and innovative products and we will evolve this into a holistic offering that covers the entire lifecycle of vehicle ownership or mobility experience. This will be enabled by our ecosystem that includes cloud technology, data analytics, predictive maintenance and vehicle software engineering.
Do you have a favorite quote or motto that captures your approach to work and life?
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. For me this means the most rewarding path is never the easy one, to grow we must challenge ourselves daily.