In Conversation with Sean Worrall

We hear from Sean Worrall, Senior Product Manager at GKN Automotive, on how his work at our Abingdon Innovation Centre, UK, helps us to drive a cleaner, more sustainable world.

Sean focuses on the development and funding of our new technology projects, as well as the introduction of new technologies to the GKN Automotive product portfolio.

What do you think being ‘sustainable’ means for GKN Automotive?

GKN Automotive can trace its origins back through enormous change for over 250 years. The world is changing ever more rapidly, and sustainability is our license to continue to work and innovate, perhaps for another 250 years. It’s not just about efficiency and reducing waste, but also with whom we choose to work and collaborate, equitability, and how we develop and treat people and our communities.

What should be GKN Automotive’s ultimate ambition when it comes to sustainability?

From an environmental perspective, our ultimate ambition should be reaching net zero. We should also be aiming to empower, educate and develop pathways to increase the number of girls pursuing STEM subjects and women coming to engineering and succeeding up the ladder. Diverse firms outperform those that are not, so it’s good for business as well as people and the planet.


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How does your role contribute towards GKN Automotive’s sustainability drive?

For the last few years, the team at our Abingdon Innovation Centre has been working on the next generation of electric drive systems to make them more efficient and increase their power density. We’re using life-cycle-analysis (LCA) to measure the reduction in the environmental impact and cost of a smaller, lighter machine, even if there are extra components such as oil sprays needed to achieve the power density. As part of product management, I’ve worked to embed LCA and engineering for sustainability into our strategy, and created new collaborative projects to develop the next generation of products that will have ESG parameters at the heart of the design process.

What motivates you to be involved in sustainability-led projects?

Sustainability is something that everybody should be concerned with; we all share one planet. The ability to come to work and be part of an organisation that is embracing the sustainability challenge is inspiring. It’s a priority for me personally and professionally that we’re tapping into 100% of the talent pool, so we created our development programme from scratch. This involves us supporting local schools and participating in initiatives that develop young talent, like Formula Student, and continuously evolving our early career programmes for year in industry and PHD students, apprentices and graduates.

What are the key benefits to GKN Automotive of this work?

Sustainability, particularly once embedded into our engineering design and business case, means that we can increase operational efficiency by reducing costs and waste, respond to customers who are also on this journey, and increase competitive advantage, as well as ensuring we’re fully compliant. Taking a lead in sustainability makes us more attractive to investors, customers and employees, thereby building our long-term viability.