IVA’s Great Gold Medal 2023: Håkan Samuelsson - the engineer who saved a national treasure
In ten years civil engineer Håkan Samuelsson managed to reverse the negative trend for the Swedish national treasure Volvo. Under Samuelsson's unifying leadership, reputation and international competitiveness were regained, cultural challenges linked to Chinese ownership were bridged, and production could be kept in Sweden. In addition, Volvo took a prominent position in the most important transition for the automotive industry in 100 years – the transition to electric.
When Håkan Samuelsson took over the leadership of Volvo Cars in 2010, the company and the brand "the world's safest car" had lost both reputation and competitiveness after a decade in the ownership of American Ford. When the Chinese car manufacturer Geely took over ownership and put Håkan Samuelsson in the driver's seat, a development journey began, which has not been without challenges. In addition to the significant cultural challenges, there was a great fear that important operations would be moved from Sweden.
Under Håkan Samuelsson's leadership during the period 2012-2022, Volvo Cars has regained its position as an internationally competitive and global passenger car company, with a continued base in Sweden and remaining strong values based on its Swedish heritage. The company has also succeeded in taking a prominent position in the passenger car industry's conversion to electric.
“Now we have entered the biggest technological change in 100 years. All cars will be electric. So I think we are facing a major restructuring and consolidation of the entire industry, where it is important to know what you want and make the change quickly if you want to be part of the new world.”
Jury citation for IVA’s Great Gold Medal
Civil engineer Håkan Samuelsson is awarded IVA's Great Gold Medal for his unique leadership in the automotive industry in developing Volvo Cars AB. Håkan Samuelsson's contribution means that Sweden has its own car manufacturing which is also an international leader in the development of electric cars, which plays an important role for the Swedish economy.