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Lyn ST. JAMES

Why did you want to work in the auto industry? Because of my involvement in auto racing. I met the president of Bilstein shock absorbers, who was looking for a distributor. And because of my knowledge of both business and the racing world, I started an auto parts distribution company.

First automotive job: I started Auto-Dyne Corp., an auto parts business, with my former husband in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1975.

Proudest professional achievement: I have been able to live my dream, being an entrepreneur and business owner and a race driver and racing in the Indy 500.

Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for female executives? There is not a gender advantage, and more women need to show up. Women bring skills and perceptions that will only make the industry better.

Dream job: To design my own car.

Did you ever consider leaving the industry? I have never considered leaving. I thought a couple times I would quit racing, and then I realized I was allowing someone else to take away my passion.

When I started to work as a Ford test driver, I found out how complex it was and all the sign-offs and analysis and the politics. The complexity stimulated my interest. It was full of challenges. I also found this stigma of women not being qualified or being effective in an industry stimulated my desire to disprove it and be successful.

What you do to relax: Now that I have a little more time and my profession does not require me to be as physically fit as I used to, I read to relax.

— Diana T. Kurylko

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