Why did you want to work in the auto industry? I had been living in Texas doing breast cancer research and pharmaceutical research. My personality didn't match lab work, so I was looking for something different and exciting. When I transferred with my first husband to southwest Iowa, I came across a large population of automotive suppliers. It was one of those serendipitous events where I picked up the Sunday Des Moines Register on a whim and saw a job opening for environmental and chemical manager in Red Oak, Iowa, at a supplier that made seats for the Chrysler minivan. I applied on a Monday, had an interview on Wednesday. And when I walked in the plant with the plant manager, there was noise, there was energy, there was excitement.

First automotive job: Environmental and chemical manager at Douglas & Lomason Co. in Red Oak, Iowa.

Proudest professional achievement: At that same plant in Iowa, we received the State of Iowa Waste Minimization Award, way back before words like "sustainability" even existed. It was a very small plant compared to what I deal with today. But it taught me early in my career that if you want to do something and you set a goal and a vision and get people to believe in the vision with you, you can accomplish just about anything.

Current challenge at work: The Leaf will be built on an existing production line where multiple vehicles are already built, so there's a technical challenge in doing that and in handling the parts complexity and the difference in timing for the different vehicles going down the line. But there's also a cultural challenge that involves harnessing the energy of the people in the plant. When the world thinks of the Leaf, I want everyone to think of Smyrna as the sustainable plant that built it. That's a big opportunity for a 27-year-old plant.

On tough factory men: The mentors I had in the manufacturing world were sort of rough around the edges and scared a lot of people. And in some cases, it was kind of a bittersweet ending to their career, where they really wanted to mentor and leave a legacy and impart what they had learned. But because of their image, they weren't sought out.

But for whatever reason, because I needed to learn so much, those were the people I latched on to. I had one boss who was very much a family man. All the plant managers would fly into Detroit for meetings, and all the men would go out somewhere I wasn't interested in going. And my boss and I would end up having dinner alone together and talking for hours about how to run a factory. He shared 30 years of experience with me listening and learning.

What you do to relax: I have a 7-year-old and an 11-year-old, and that's my focus when I'm off work. I go to kids' movies. I go to swim meets and baseball games. My son's in Boy Scouts and wants to be an Eagle Scout. My daughter wants to learn to golf, so I take her to the driving range.

— Lindsay Chappell

ATTENTION COMMENTERS: Automotive News has monitored a significant increase in the number of personal attacks and abusive comments on our site. We encourage our readers to voice their opinions and argue their points. We expect disagreement. We do not expect our readers to turn on each other. We will be aggressively deleting all comments that personally attack another poster, or an article author, even if the comment is otherwise a well-argued observation. If we see repeated behavior, we will ban the commenter. Please help us maintain a civil level of discourse.

Email Newsletters
  • General newsletters
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Mondays)
  • (As needed)
  • Video newscasts
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Saturdays)
  • Special interest newsletters
  • (Thursdays)
  • (Tuesdays)
  • (Monthly)
  • (Monthly)
  • (Wednesdays)
  • (Bimonthly)
  • Special reports
  • (As needed)
  • (As needed)
  • Communication preferences
  • You can unsubscribe at any time through links in these emails. For more information, see our Privacy Policy.