The fact that Volvo Trucks is the world's largest manufacturer of heavy trucks means that Jan Ove Östensen and his team have a great opportunity to reduce the negative environmental impact from vehicles on a global level. Jan Ove appreciates the responsibility that comes with his position.
– I always say that I have the best job in the world, and that is because of two things. First I have a chance to ensure that the next generation of powertrains and vehicles do not affect the environment. That is a powerful motivator. Then it's all the great people I get to work with, Jan Ove Östensen says.
Long background at Luleå University of Technology
Jan Ove Östensen was born in Karlskoga and raised in Finspång. Why he moved to Luleå and LTU is because he always followed the motto of doing what feels good. He chose between reading machine engineering in Lund or Luleå, but because he enjoys skiing and saw the chance to live in a place with real winter, Jan Ove moved to Luleå. Reading at the university level was quite different from high school.
– My math teacher told me "Jan Ove, you have extremely poor previous knowledge of mathematics", so I quickly realized that now I have to start reading seriously, Jan Ove recalls.
And reading was exactly what Jan Ove Östensen did. He received his engineering degree in 1989, including a one year break for paternity leave, and was offered a job as a PhD-student by Professor Erik Höglund. Again, Jan Ove followed his principle of doing what is fun and after a short reflection, during which he realised that he was going to work with very friendly people, he accepted the offer. Jan Ove talks about the difference between being a undergraduate student compared to being a PhD-student.
– As a student, you are good at learning new things fast. When you aim for a PhD you have a final goal, a dissertation, and you must take the initiative to reach that goal. Luckily I had a few colleagues I could collaborate with, Jan Ove Östensen says.
Comet career in the Volvo Group
In 1995 Jan Ove Östensen earned his PhD in lubricants and tribology, and already half a year before the dissertation he was empolyed as a specialist in mechanical engineering at Volvo Aero.
– After a few months we had solved the problems that existed regarding the lubrication and then I became responsible for logistics. Others think you know everything just because you have a PhD, but that is of course not true. You are however good at learning quickly, so I just had to learn logistics instead, Jan Ove says.
After another couple of years Jan Ove Östensen became responsible for a research group at Volvo Aero, where he learned many different areas.
– The advantage of working in a large company is that you can work in various functions such as production, technology and human resources. It is also exciting when you operate on a international arena, Jan Ove says.
Jan Ove Östensen mentions that he is more than happy to hire students who have studied at LTU.
– When I worked at Volvo Aero our biggest recruitment group was from Luleå University of Technology. I knew I got capable and independent students who had worked with real projects.
The environment is the major challenge
Since January 2012, Jan Ove Östensen is the CEO of Volvo Technology and the Research Director at Volvo Trucks. He is responsible for 500 employees worldwide that works with developing concepts for future vehicles. The challenge is, as mentioned before, to cope with future environmental problems.
– We all know what happens in the world when it comes to the environment, so my main challenge for the future is about reducing the environmental impact of our vehicles, Jan Ove Östensen concludes.