Sarah Wills Carlsson Exclusive Interview – ‘Let Go Of Competing With Others, Find Your Own Unique Purpose’
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Sarah Wills Carlsson was recently interviewed by TheCelebrity.Online and below is the Q&A session we had with her.

Sarah Wills Carlsson As Cover Story Feature – May 2023 Edition

How do you introduce yourself?

Sarah Wills Carlsson: I am Sarah Wills Carlsson.

Childhood to Adulthood – How was your transition from childhood to adulthood and what are the bad and good things you remember?

Sarah Wills Carlsson:  I wasn’t very comfortable with myself at that time.  My goals and purpose were much more about proving my worth/value to others (and to myself).  I was very shy and was lacking self-confidence, which impacted me for many years.  On the good side, it helped me achieve many things (attend top universities – Northwestern and Stanford, receive a prestigious fellowship for graduate school, advance quickly into management, study electrical engineering and work in automotive engineering where there are few women) but it also ate me up inside as each achievement left me feeling emptier.    

I perceived myself as not belonging, whether it was at school, with extended family, summer camp, and sorority selection, but now I see that ability of not fitting in as being one of my superpowers that has allowed me to succeed in a career in automotive engineering (few women) and travel the world (many different cultures).  I belong everywhere and nowhere.

Struggle – What hardships have you gone through in life?

Sarah Wills Carlsson:  I addressed some of them above.  It led to a series of challenges and major life changes in the period from 35 to 45 as I moved from being driven by a need to achieve to prove my worth to being driven by living my purpose.  I also had a lot of challenges having my daughter, both physically as I almost died twice at the delivery and shortly thereafter and mentally as I struggled with extreme post-partum depression. 

What do people usually not know about you?

Sarah Wills Carlsson:  How shy I am.  Most people who know me as a professional see me as outgoing and confident.  Earlier in my career, it was a façade.  Now it is more reality as I am more comfortable with myself.  I am fundamentally quite shy even today and even if it isn’t obvious.

What sets you apart from your competitors in the industry and in life?

Sarah Wills Carlsson:  It is the intersection between domain competence (automotive systems and software engineering) and organizational psychology that sets me apart.  Most people are knowledgeable with one or the other, but not both.  

My customers really appreciate that my stories and experience supplement my classes.  Often, an expert in intercultural work or high performing teams has a Masters or PhD in organizational psychology, but has never worked in industry, let alone in the complex projects that are my customers’ realities.  I combine theory and practice from both areas to both be a better instructor, coach, and role model.

What are your upcoming major events – Unforgettable Moments or products/services that you want to promote/inform?

Sarah Wills Carlsson:  In addition to working with corporate clients to help build high performing teams across countries and cultures, I have started working with my sister (an IT project manager and Agile Coach) to launch a series of children’s books. 

I am the author and she is the illustrator.  The books intend to teach the superpowers of curiosity, courage, and compassion through the adventures of a stuffed bear who travels the world.  We launched the first book April 29th and are hard at work on our second book.  We really want to create more openness, interest, flexibility, and respect for differences.

What are your food preferences and body measurements?

Sarah Wills Carlsson:  I try to eat fresh food that is not processed.  I choose to buy organic, small-farm products whenever possible to drive local, sustainable, and ethical practices.  I enjoy food though and am not tiny.  I am US size 10 (EU size 42) at 5’8” (170 cm) and focus more on fitness, strength, and health. 

I like to be active by mountain biking, scuba diving, sailing, and hiking.

What expert advice would you like to give?

Sarah Wills Carlsson:  Let go of competing with others, find your own unique purpose and contribution, then partner with people who are better than you and share your purpose.  Form great teams and you can accomplish anything (and let go of the need to be perfect and solve everything yourself).

Your social media handles and website links?

Sarah Wills Carlsson:  

Anything else you want to add?

Sarah Wills Carlsson:  I want to share my mission statement as it is a lot about who I am and what I want to do:

To positively impact our world, our planet, and my fellow humans and leave the world more compassionate and inclusive because I existed.  

I will accomplish this through my roles as:

  • Self

To recognize I am not perfect, I cannot be and do everything, but as part of a high performing team, I can.

  • Mother

To bring a strong, capable, loving and kind daughter to be an ethical and empathetic leader in the next generation

  • Wife

To bring love and loyalty to our relationship to live our wedding vow commitments such that we grow old and always enjoy life together

  • Daughter

To thank and serve my parents (and respectives) for their service to me.  To respect their wisdom and continue learning from them.  To enjoy the time we have together and to take care of them as needed.

  • Sister and Aunt

To support and love and enjoy time together, to share experiences and knowledge where they are sought.

  • Friends

To maintain and further develop a few close relationships for love, support, and mutual growth.

  • Teacher

To give of myself,  my knowledge and my experiences to open others to new ways of thinking and enable others to achieve their potential.  To truly believe in and seek to bring out the gifts that each individual (regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality, nationality, etc) has to contribute with and help them to be valued and contribute to their best abilities.  To help shape the next generation of engineering leadership to be both more compassionate and inclusive and achieve better team performance.

  • Student

To continuously seek knowledge and growth, both to deepen, expand, and challenge.  

  • Leader

To inspire organizations and individuals to achieve a common greater good, to bring out the best in them, to see possibilities, to expand horizons and challenge barriers, to see value in diversity and be truly inclusive, and to achieve personal and organizational goals.  I lead with integrity, striving that for all I do, I would be fine if it were printed on the front page of my local newspaper (or went viral on the internet).

  • Creator

To create from my ideas and imagination tangible products that can outlive me, such as photography, books, quilts, etc.

  • Conservationist

To be respectful and conservative with the planet and natural resources, as well as human life.  To maintain the mobility industry in West Sweden, in a sustainable and cooperative way, so that it is a potential career for my daughter and the future generations as well as a contributor to national security and technology ownership.