Kara Grasso, 45
Global strategy lead for advanced mobility, DuPont Mobility and Materials
Big break: Joining the Inforum AutomotiveNext group provided networking, mentorship and programming opportunities
Kara Grasso gets paid to peer into the future of mobility and chart a path to get there.
Most recently, she was vice president of strategic operations at Denso International America, where she helped the auto supplier find business opportunities in autonomy, electrification and connected devices.
“We recognized the world is going to be completely different 10, 20 years from now,” Grasso said. “So we had better find our place within it.”
While at Denso, Grasso helped create a business model for urban air mobility using electrified “flying cars.”
“Urban air mobility can create a safer environment for people to travel, especially in heavily, commuted areas,” she said. “The more we get off the roadways, the cleaner environment we will have, the safer environment we will have.”
In July, Grasso signed on for a new challenge. The mother of three girls is now global strategy lead for advanced mobility at DuPont. Her mandate in the new role: “How do we make it easier for people and things to move around the world with less of a carbon footprint?”
Greater awareness about the environment will transform the way people and goods are transported, Grasso said. And that will drive new technologies, such as electric cars, e-bikes, scooters and even those fanciful flying cars.
“It’s really exciting how many solutions there are for creating a safer world, but also a more sustainable environment based on a carbon-neutral society,” Grasso said.
The pandemic will have long-term implications on transportation, she said.
“We are starting to realize we don’t need to be commuting in the same way. I don’t need to fly around the world for a two-hour conference,” Grasso said. “Now, I can contribute to improving my own carbon footprint.”
More than a year of Zoom meetings also has changed the way work is ?done.
“I am so thrilled that I can work 18-hour days while taking a bike ride midafternoon with my 12-year-old,” Grasso said. “We have realized how to be more efficient [and] balance better our personal and our professional lives.”
Grasso started in the industry as an intern with General Motors’ Buick brand. She credits the Inforum AutomotiveNext group with providing networking and mentorship opportunities that helped further her career.
Exposure to the auto industry began at an early age, as did her fascination with it. Her dad was an executive at GM, leading organizational development.
“I loved everything about what he brought home,” she said.
— Urvaksh Karkaria