- Expertise: Product Strategy & Planning, Product Development
- Location: Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France
- Languages spoken: English, German, Spanish, French
- DOB: October 1979
Who is Clíodhna?
In her current role, Clíodhna's main responsibility is to define Nissan's product strategy and optimum product offering for the mid to long-term in Africa, Middle East, India, Europe and Oceania. The advanced planning team works along three different axes – vehicle, powertrains and technology – and working with market intelligence, the team looks at both external factors such as societal trends, evolving customer needs and regulations and internal factors at Nissan such as model evolution and life cycles to propose the best future line-up of cars. Clíodhna also works with various functions from across the business including R&D to achieve this, with daily meetings with teams in Japan to secure the regional voice at time of global decision making.
Clíodhna is a Mechanical Engineer by training, holding a PhD from University College Dublin. Before she finished her degree, Clíodhna knew she wanted to go into the automotive industry and couldn't let the opportunity to join Nissan pass, even though she was still writing her Doctoral thesis. Joining the R&D team in Spain and working on the optimisation of engine combustion, Clíodhna says it was unusual at the time that PhD candidates got a job directly associated with their area of expertise and was extremely excited about the position.
During her 13 years in the R&D function at Nissan, Clíodhna went from focusing on mechanical engineering to focusing more specifically on electronic and systems engineering. In 2011, Clíodhna was offered the opportunity to create a new team to work on Software and Electronic Architecture development, in close collaboration with Renault. Over the years that followed Clíodhna and her team in Barcelona created the state-of-the-art automated testing and validation standards that are today used globally by Nissan. Having achieved that goal, Clíodhna moved into her current position in the Product Planning team in 2019.
Being the first female Manager in her area of expertise in R&D was a big achievement for Clíodhna. She has always been a big supporter of encouraging more girls into STEM and in overcoming some of the misconceptions that engineering is a job for overalls and greasy hands! Leading software development teams on advanced technology such as Autonomous Driving allowed her to show just that.
Similarly, being charged to lead the Advanced Product Strategy team for Europe and Russia, Clíodhna again found herself as the first female in that position. From Clíodhna's own experience, she knows that a key part of breaking down the barriers that attract girls into STEM and keep females in a STEM-related workplace is exposure to females in leadership roles. The auto industry is complex and fast-moving and the skills that are needed are wide and varied - a diverse workforce and leadership team is key for any future success.
Clíodhna says that Nissan has given her lots of opportunities to try different things, including being able to participate in a racing championship, using an old prototype Micra, which was retrofit by a group of engineers and took part in various races around Spain. She says this is just one memory that is demonstrative of Nissan's support for fun employee initiatives.
However, among the memories that she will never forget are the trips that she has been able to take while working with Nissan. Perhaps the most breathtaking of which were the trips testing prototype cars on the frozen roads and lakes in the Arctic Circle in the depths of Winter. To drive alongside the reindeer and through the forests with the low sun barely coming through the trees were unique and special experiences. Another one was landing in Japan for the first time at the age of 26 and navigating Tokyo's public transport system, map in hand! The first time to experience the sights and sounds of the city are impossible to forget!
Why is Nissan different?
Clíodhna says the level of impact you can have at Nissan is not easily found at other companies. With a corporate culture that rewards dedication and accountability, she says that if you have initiative and work hard, you will reap the rewards and will ultimately see a product come to market that you've had a real influence on. Clíodhna also says that the company's diversity makes it a special place to work, something she has experienced first-hand as someone who is Irish and has had the opportunity to work in both Spain and France with multi-cultural teams.
Clíodhna says that in Europe, the sky is the limit with a large and monumental disruptive shift currently occurring. She says that the region is a crystal ball for the rest of the world for these big changes, driven by a diverse, mature and progressive society that is leading global emerging trends. Europe is at the forefront of what the future of the automotive industry will look like.
From a product point of view, Clíodhna says this is now the time to be bold, innovative and build on Nissan's strengths, such as its SUV and EV leadership. She says the industry shouldn't be intimidated by this shift but instead automakers should be fearless and stretch themselves. The customer expects it of us! Now is not the time for conservative products and Clíodhna believes the companies that will come out on top will be those that push the boundaries.
- 1997 – 2001: Bachelor of Engineering (with Honours), Mechanical Engineering
- 2001 – 2006: PhD Mechanical Engineering, Estimation of Diesel Engine NOx Emissions from Measured In-Cylinder Pressures
In Clíodhna's Personal Time
Clíodhna loves to do yoga in her spare time as she finds it a great workout and can feel the tension of the day slip away. She tries to do this most days Monday to Friday and in recent times, has connected with teachers online.
Your current car
Clíodhna currently drives an X-Trail.
Your first car
Clíodhna has had an unplanned association with cars from the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Her first car was a Mitsubishi Colt, which she learnt to drive in. She then drove a Renault Clio Sport and for the last 10 years has alternated between Nissan Juke, Leaf, Qashqai and X-Trail.