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Marsha Winegarden

Ford Motor Company

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Global Executive Director, New Model Programs, Ford Motor Company
Allen Park, Mich.
Age: 59
Education: B.A., business, pre-law, University of Detroit; B.S., mechanical engineering, Lawrence Technological University; MBA, operations research, University of Detroit

What attracted you to the auto industry? The location and variety of positions available

First automotive job: Ford financial analyst, 1978

Big break: I had many different opportunities while at Ford. The one that probably had the biggest impact on my career was a move into engineering. That opened many doors.

What is the major challenge you’ve faced in your career? A re-engineering project. It involved developing new processes and an IT system to more accurately calculate the parts volumes so our suppliers could better plan for their requirements. It required bringing numerous cross-function team members to align on new business practices and processes.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career? One of my managers in product planning. He was truly a compassionate and understanding individual who looked out for his team. He was extremely appreciative of your hard work. He looked out for my career even after I left the group. He was truly a great mentor and generated great loyalty. He got the most out of his team. I continue to seek input from him even though he has retired.

What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry? The auto industry needs to be seen as an attractive place to work, with a flexible work environment. Management needs to endorse flexibility to support reasonable hours at work. Work hours tend to be long but not everything has to be done at the office. Many people must balance completing work outside the time for meetings with family needs, like picking up children, preparing and eating meals with family and time with children while everybody does homework. Emails, papers and schedules can be done in quiet hours at home. Some managers still look for face time and long hours on-site.

Tell us about your family. I am married with two grown sons. My sons have grown up with Ford playing a strong role in our family. They have spent time in the office on weekends. They’ve visited me while I was on launch and living away from home. We’ve done our homework together at home as well. They’ve learned the value of hard work and commitment.

What’s your guilty pleasure? Fishing. With a global network to manage, I’m always “on,” even on vacation. But sometimes in Florida, we’ll get up early and go fishing on our 28-foot Boston Whaler. Sometimes the fishing is better farther out … out past cell reception range.

Where was your last vacation? Our [second] home in Florida: We spent time boating, deep-sea fishing and swimming in the pool. It was hot and sunny. It was great.

By Jesse Snyder

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