Company: Fiat Group Automobiles
Education: Degree in electrical engineering, Turin Polytechnic
Marital status: Single
Children: “My ‘child’ is Polpetta, a 10-year-old cat.”
I was responsible for self-diagnosis systems for engine management systems at Fiat Auto.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
Having started production of the Fiat Grande Punto at the planned cost and two months ahead of schedule.
What is your proudest personal achievement?
Both on the professional and the personal side, so far I have achieved more than I could have expected. Probably I was also lucky.
What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
It was a team error, not just mine. We had just frozen the styling of the Fiat Grande Punto but decided to change the shape of the rear door. At that time, I accepted the late modification because it made the car look better. Actually, such a late change resulted in unexpected quality problems with the rear door hinges in the first production units. Looking back, I should have said no. From that mistake, I have learned not to accept any modification when it is too late, no matter how much nicer the final product might look.
What is your current challenge at work?
Reaching quality standards required by light commercial vehicle users, which are higher than in passenger cars because customers work daily with their vehicles.
What is the biggest obstacle facing women in the auto industry?
To balance one’s professional and private lives. This is difficult regardless of whether you have family or not.What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry?
I do not think there is any obstacle that keeps women from entering the auto industry. I do think the problem for any industry is retaining women.
Many of my college classmates had to leave their jobs when they decided to start their families. To retain women we should have more flexible working hours and part-time contracts.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in the auto industry?
The same I would give to a young man: Choose this industry only if you have a true passion for it. This industry offers great rewards, but it is really demanding. If you have passion and you like learning every day, this is the right place. If you are only interested in your salary, you should consider another industry.
Are women pushed toward marketing and communications and discouraged from engineering and other technical jobs?
Yes, but I think this starts in
high school. Many women are pushed by their families and society to pick a liberal arts high school rather than a scientific one.
What subject affecting women in this industry is not being talked about enough?
The difficulty of balancing business and private life. On paper, all industries offer equal opportunities, but nature says one gender has the kids. Too often, when a new mother returns to work, her job has been given to someone else.
What do you do to relax?
Cooking had always been my favorite leisure activity.
This winter I discovered rowing and it really excites me.
If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
Honestly, I have never thought about being a CEO. I do not have a list of priorities ready. In
general, I fear that because we work so much in this industry, we are losing contact with the real world. I think this is very risky because we have to create vehicles for real people and not just base our decisions on the “real world” we are shown in Powerpoint presentations.