Isobel Sheldon (OBE) is currently the chief strategy officer and board member at Britishvolt and member of the board of trustees at the Faraday Institution. She was instrumental in Britishvolt’s plans to create a Gigaplant in Northumberland to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) on a large scale.
The new Gigaplant will produce over 300,000 electric vehicle batteries and provide 3,000 direct skilled jobs and another 5,000 plus indirect wider roles.
Isobel is a seasoned and highly experienced business executive, technical leader and entrepreneur in leading-edge transportation technology, specialist expertise in battery technology. She is a first-class influencer and relationship builder across C Suite, director and senior manager level stakeholders in international environments.
Isobel has an extensive history and solid track record of working with international clients, customers and government/non-government organisations in European, North and South American and Asian business environments.
Isobel has lived and breathed cleantech for the majority of my career delivering ground-breaking first to market technical innovations from within small start-ups and semi-government institutions to business turnaround within divisions of publicly listed corporations
EDs: What is your personal interest in emobility?
It started when I was eight years old. My father was describing how a car engine worked when he was repairing his MKIII Ford Cortina estate. I was horrified as a child to learn that it took air in, mixed it will petrol and burnt it.
Naively, I became very worried that it would consume all the air we breathe and replaced it with gases that weren’t very good for people. I thought at a young age there has got to be a better way, so my journey started 44 years ago.
EDs: How did your career path take you on a journey to emobility?
I worked around a number of industries in a variety of roles until I managed to pull together some of the knowledge and skills I would need to take some action and address the horror I had as an eight-year-old. I started my journey on the electrification of vehicles back in 2003. Most people thought I was mad for embarking on this journey but it turns out it wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
EDs: You have a background in business development. Do you see sales as an important route for career progression?
I have a variety of experiences in my work history. I have been in sales but I have also held director positions in technical roles. This includes being engineering and technical director at Johnson Matthey Battery Systems. I feel I have a fairly good mix of engineering, commercial and business roles in my work history.
EDs: You’re now at Britishvolt. Do you personally see a British manufacturing base for batteries as key to the development of an indigenous electric vehicle industry in the UK?
Britishvolt isn’t particularly UK-centric as far as customers are concerned, it’s much wider than that. Advanced, low carbon, sustainable batteries are needed around the globe. We will become a major force in providing improved and advanced battery technology solutions from our global footprint of facilities of which the UK and Canada will be the first constructed. Others will follow in a variety of locations.
EDs: What do you see as the most exciting technological developments in the emobility sector?
Advanced battery technology will be the enabler for a whole variety of possibilities to decarbonise transportation, so watch this space. The developments we are currently progressing are truly exciting. Batteries are an integral force, when produced correctly the Britishvolt way, for delivering a successful energy transition.
EDs: What electric car do you drive?
I have two Audi e-trons.
EDs: What electric vehicle, in terms of technology, would you like to be driving in five years time?
I have always fancied at Porsche 911 convertible – maybe when they make an electric one. If could ever afford one at some point, that’s the car I would purchase.