Kim PITTELDirector of Transmission and Driveline Engineering • Ford Motor Co. • Age 50
First automotive job: Chemical engineer in 1981 for Edwards Oil Co., which dealt in reclaimed oil and other cutting fluid for suppliers.
Proudest professional achievement: The rear solid axle on the 2005 Ford Mustang. Getting it right was the hardest thing I've ever done.
Current challenge at work: Globally launching four new transmissions — all six-speeds; four different platforms; front-drive and rear-drive planetary and dual-clutch manual — all in the same year.
Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for a female executive? I haven't found it to be difficult. I have work-life balance issues, but everybody in America struggles with that.
How has the recession affected opportunities and the work environment for women in the industry? I don't think it has. It's hard for both men and women. Everybody's downsizing. That's not a woman problem; that's an industry problem.
Dream job: This is a pretty good one right now. It's strategically challenging and rewarding tactically. It's an engineering dream job come true. My favorite job so far is plant manager, which I had a chance to do at Livonia [Mich.] Transmis-sion and Essex Aluminum Casting Plant.
What you do to relax: Spend time with my family. I love going to soccer games just to watch my daughter play. Reading. Movies. Travel and researching travel.
— Jesse Snyder