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Travel brings world of experience

Kathleen Ligocki knows her way around the world. She has conducted business in more than 100 countries, including Saudi Arabia.

Ford Motor Co.'s new vice president for Canada, Mexico and North America strategy has crisscrossed the globe working for Delco Electronics and United Technologies.

'I have traveled in 156 countries and worked in over 100 countries,' Ligocki said. 'There are over 220 countries, so I still have a lot to go.'

Ligocki spent seven months obtaining a visa to work in Saudi Arabia, a country typically closed to unmarried businesswomen. She counts in her wardrobe the concealing black robe worn by women in the Middle East.

Ligocki studied the Koran and obtained the sponsorship of a Saudi sheik to gain a visa and bypass the Saudi requirement that women travel in the country with a husband, father, son or brother.

She took the measures in order to visit a Carrier air conditioning plant that reported to her. Ligocki oversaw United Technologies' Carrier Corp. plants in Europe, Africa, Russia and the Middle East in the post.

Fluent in French and Spanish, Ligocki conducted press conferences and speeches in Spanish as president of Ford of Mexico.

'I picked up Spanish. I didn't study it formally,' she said. So she required her speechwriter Juan Antonio Garcia to add an unfamiliar word in every speech. 'I have to look it up,' she said. 'It's like third grade.'

But knowing the language changes the communication, Ligocki said. 'It is different when you speak their language. It is you going to them, versus them coming to you. The message is different, and that is important.'

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