100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry
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Kristen TABAR

General Manager, Electronics Systems • Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. • Age 40
 
 
 
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Why did you want to work in the auto industry? I grew up in Detroit. With all the automotive companies in the area, it's a natural choice. I was really interested in automotive electronics, always interested in the entertainment and communications systems in the vehicle — audio or navigation or video.

First automotive job: Right out of school. A contract engineer for three months assigned to Ford in the quality division: electronics, suspension and chassis engineering, February to June 1992. Then I took the position at Toyota and have been here ever since.

Proudest professional achievement: When I was promoted to the general manager position. That was a big achievement in the technical area here at the Toyota Technical Center. I was the first female at the time. So that was a big accomplishment. And the youngest assigned to that position.

Either that or — through these last few months with the crisis activity, I was really pretty proud to be able to participate in the congressional hearings and kind of stand up for the company and really be able to support and educate the public about what great work we do here and what our company's all about. Some people probably think that was one of the low points for our execs, but I was proud to sit there and be able to field questions and support our execs.

Current challenge at work: Probably just work-life balance and time management. Obviously, we have a lot of projects. Our office is continuously expanding responsibility and certainly with the recent recall activities and media activities, I'm splitting my work time between those two. And I attempt to have a personal life — a mom of three young kids. How to make sure there's time for all that.

Dream job: The one I have right now. I really do love my job. I really do enjoy electronics. It never occurred to me to go create software or work on aerospace. I really enjoy automotive. The parts and systems I work on right now are the most interesting ones in the vehicle: entertainment and communications. As we move toward the crazy ideas of autonomous driving and such, I really like it.

What you do to relax: I have a lot of activities outside the office. I really enjoy spending time with my kids and their activities. I'm a leader of three separate Girl Scout troops. I enjoy spending time with all of those kids. It's a good chance to connect with the people that my kids are hanging out with and broaden their view on a lot of things. We do a lot of things with science and art and environmental projects. It forces me to think about things other than my particular area of expertise.

— James B. Treece

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