Inside a day in the life of a Hyundai VP based in California

  • Olabisi Boyle is VP of product planning and mobility strategy for Hyundai Motor North America.
  • She spends her days testing out vehicles, speaking at events, or attending meetings from home. 
  • This is what her daily schedule looks like, as told to freelance writer Robin Madell.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I have two decades of experience in the automotive industry, and since August 2020 have served as vice president of product planning and mobility strategy for Hyundai Motor North America. My job involves guiding the strategic direction of Hyundai’s US vehicle lineup and the company’s US mobility strategy. 

I worked at Visa before Hyundai, where I was most recently VP of connected commerce, and have also held leadership roles at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford Motor Company. I’m also an advisory board member for the Los Angeles Auto Show and was elected as co-chair and board member of the Chrysler African American Network. 

I wake up at 5 a.m. every day.

You’ll never catch my bed unmade, so once my husband gets up, I make sure to fix the bed as part of my morning routine. 

I like to use the next two hours to take time to reflect and bring fresh air into my heart each day — either by meditating or going outside for a morning walk. I’ll also spend 20 or so minutes exercising with a kettlebell or hopping on the treadmill.

My workday starts at 7 a.m., either in Laguna Beach or at Hyundai’s headquarters in Orange County, California. 

Being in charge of Hyundai’s mobility strategy means that no two days will ever be the same. 

Whether in meetings with my teams, testing out a new vehicle at our media drives, speaking at an event, or strategizing hydrogen solutions, I try to approach each day and task with a positive attitude. 

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Olabisi Boyle at an Elantra media drive.

Olabisi Boyle

I kick off every Monday morning at 8 a.m. by attending team meetings led by our CEO, Jose Muñoz. 

These weekly meetings give us an opportunity to connect regularly and also ensure that we’re all on the same page for the coming week. With so much going on and so much of our work staying remote, it’s a nice way to stay connected, on task, and keep our relationships strong.

At these startup meetings, we align on current sales and production status, customer feedback, our COVID-19 response, and any impact on future product strategies.

The next few hours usually involve cross-functional discussions including anything from fuel cell electric vehicle strategy to improving access to hydrogen to the latest in battery technology and solutions. We also have meetings where we discuss new mobility solutions that are crucial toward attaining a planet-friendly, zero-emissions world.

At 11 a.m., I frequently meet with our parent company, Hyundai Motor Company (HMC) in Korea, and Hyundai Design North America. 

Here, I’ll lead product plan decisions within the global Hyundai brand, making sure that the North American customer voice has representation in our US line-up. 

We align with our HMC counterparts on market sensing research for key products, discussions on the transition to electrification, democratizing safety features, and new feature-on-demand opportunities. 

We also have meetings at our Design Center in Irvine, where we review new designs using virtual reality technology and reveal new product and design plans to our dealer partners. During these meetings, Chris Chapman, our senior chief designer at Hyundai Design North America, and I jointly present. He discusses design and I discuss product. 

12 p.m. is lunchtime.

Due to the pandemic, my husband and I usually both work from home three to four days a week. When I’m home, my husband likes to tip-toe into my office during

calls to check in on me and ask how my day is going. 

When we can squeeze it in, we meet in our kitchen for lunch and share advice on work, engineering, and technology. He’s an engineering manager working on autonomous delivery bots, and we’ve been married for 30 years.

We have two dogs, a chocolate lab named Argos and Shih-Tzu Poodle named Ebony. In the afternoons, you’ll usually find either of them laying on top of my feet under my desk as I lead and participate in meetings. 

In between meetings, I take a break and do kettlebell swings for 2 to 3 minutes. 

Not only does this keep me moving and energized, but it helps me refocus on the next task or deliverable ahead.

Aside from meetings, my day involves interviewing with journalists or speaking at a webinar or conference, where I talk about anything ranging from hydrogen solutions to women in STEM and diversity in the workplace. These opportunities let me speak about what I’m most passionate about in life and reinforce my daily aspiration to be a competent leader with empathy, compassion, and knowledge.

I conduct mentorship meetings at 3 p.m. weekly for future STEM leaders who reach out to me through Hyundai and on LinkedIn.

Being a woman in a predominantly male industry was my biggest challenge, so my personal goal is to forge a path for underrepresented minorities and women in tech and auto to let them know that they belong here and that their contribution is valued.

I always encourage mentees to be resilient in developing ‘relationship wealth.’ I also give them advice to look to the future — one year, five years, and 10 years out — and develop a plan to deliver on those visions.

This drive for success and strength comes from the amazing women that surround me, including my mother, a single mom who taught me positivity, perseverance, and resilience, and my six college girlfriends with whom I still Zoom with at least twice a month.

At 5 p.m., if I’m at the office, I drive home.

The ability to combine form and function is one of my favorite parts about working in the auto industry, so I usually head home in different cars (Hyundai and competitors) to test out new features, technologies, and the overall handling of vehicles.

Experiencing our cars firsthand at our events and on my commute home hardly feels like work and reminds me why I do what I do every day.

On Fridays after a long week, you can catch me heading to the beach to watch the sunset with my husband, son, and 2 dogs. 

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Olabisi Boyle’s husband, John, and their dogs.

Olabisi Boyle

My son is 23 years old and visits from his home in Oakland, California — when he’s around, we love spending time with him at the beach and at home. Outings like this help me find and hold onto my strength and peace, reminding me of what I value and stand for both personally and professionally. 

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Olabisi Boyle with her son.

Olabisi Boyle

By 7 p.m., I’m winding down the day with my husband. 

We follow basketball (Lebron James is the G.O.A.T!) and will usually watch Lakers games after dinner. 

Each night as I get ready for bed, I go old school and follow up with notes that I take in these little Moleskine notebooks. I have a million of them. I organize my thoughts, follow up for the next day, and jot down my latest thinking on mobility and electrification. I have to admit that I actually think about electrification and mobility for fun.