Nick Filler, Head of Mobility

4 minute read

19 October 2021

By Peter Springett

Head of Content, Upstart

Welcome to the first of our series: Upstart uncovered. In each episode we’ll be chatting to one of the Upstart team to discover what makes them tick and find out how digital disruption has transformed their lives as well as our clients.

Hello Nick. Can you give us a quick introduction?

Hi. I've been working for Upstart on the operations side for about two years. I’m focusing on mobility because it is so huge and offers so much opportunity for disruption and innovation. 

Having worked in the past with Jaguar Land Rover supporting their software and digital efforts and also with Nokia, again on their digital side, it is obvious that the automotive and mobility market is having to adjust quite drastically.

What are the main disruptors in the automobile sector?

I think we’re seeing a lot of exciting developments triggered by electric and autonomous vehicles. Not just the vehicles themselves, but the way in which the entire industry is fragmenting and reforming around different alliances, technologies, and platforms.

Can you give us a couple of quick examples from recent months?

Sure, let's look at the architecture of the vehicle. We’re now seeing new entrants and existing players look to ‘skateboard’ chassis platforms filled with batteries and electric motors. On top of these you can develop different types of bodies such as cargo or public transportation. 

The other big disruptor is software which will again define the car, services and the driver-passenger experience. Some manufacturers are developing their own, some are embedding third party platforms such as Android Auto, the most recent being Honda.

What does digital disruption mean to you?

I like to ask, what aspects of life that we take for granted will look absurd in a few years’ time? For me, it’s watching a bus going past with three or four passengers who have scheduled their day around the bus timetable instead of getting their transport on demand. 

Why are we still doing this? In these days of sustainability I believe we will demand more efficient and effective ways of moving people and goods around. There’s going to be a big shift from private and corporate vehicle ownership to far more efficient forms of shared transportation, and very soon.   

What's your digital transformation USP?

I’d say it’s helping people to apply digital tools and innovative thinking to traditional sectors while moving away from monolithic, old-school mindsets. I really enjoy helping teams apply this new approach so that work is more satisfying and better for them and their business.

What's the biggest change that you've seen in the way that you work in the past 18 months?

During the pandemic, I actually spoke to more people working remotely than all the face-to-face and online meetings that I had before lockdown. It really broadened my horizons. I absolutely love it. 

This doesn’t mean I don’t want to meet people in real life, it just means we can have great conversations and collaborations and choose how and when we wish to do this.

Music, TV, movies: what are your go to channels and providers?

My Bose music system. It keeps the music - and my mood - going while I’m working in the home office.

Android or Apple?

Apple I’m afraid. Whilst I have loyalties to Nokia, when I ran a start-up we used Apple devices for testing and I just got used to them.

PC or Mac?

Mac for work, primarily due to the better display but I am also going to buy a new PC as well for the family.

What are your top three tech predictions for the next few years?

First of all, the electrification of vehicles. It will change how we travel, fuel up and even transform the second hand car market. Home robotics is another important development. Amazon’s Astro is the first of many and will help in so many ways addressing health and loneliness in society. And of course sustainability. The world will rightly demand this and therefore it will impact economic models enormously. 

Who’s on your dream dinner party guest list?

Firstly it’s Sir Rannulph Fiennes, what an adventurer and what a life. Then General Sir Peter de la Billiere who was commander of the British army in the first Gulf War. Joining would be Dr Zahi Hawass the modern day Egyptian archeologist, another amazing career in antiquity. Finally, for laughs, it would have to be Milton Jones who is just brilliant when it comes to puns and one-liners.

How do you unwind when you’re not busy helping mobility companies manage disruption?

Right now, I do a lot of work with the RAF Air Cadets. To be honest, I’m trying to disrupt them too, because they’re a traditional government organization and the young people I work with are some of the most creative people I’ve met! Trying to bring the best thing out of people and teams is something that I’m always passionate about, whether I’m at work or not.

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