Jennifer SEPULLChief Information Officer • American Honda Motor Co. • Age 45
First automotive job: In 1984, I worked for an auto dealership in California as head of customer relations. The dealer's CSI rating was really low, so I was hired to bring it up. So I worked right out on the service drive.
We went from last [in the region] to first. I had a deal with the GM of the dealership that if I brought the CSI up he would give me a car.
What I love about my history is I was down on the ground working with the dealers. So when I got started I learned the importance of the dealership and the OEM relationship. If you don't have that balance and you're not working together, you're not going to be successful.
Proudest professional achievement: For a while it was earning my law degree. I was really proud to get that. But I think my proudest achievement is my job right now because it's taking everything that I've learned and experienced up until now and putting it into one job. I use my law degree. I have my experience in the auto industry. I'm using all of my technology experience. If you talk to some CIOs, they work in the back-end systems doing operational support.
Here at Honda my team is working with r&d, and we're bringing value to the field, and we're working with new products. Our architects and team — we're really playing a pivotal role in the competitive advantage of the company.
So for me, that's a huge achievement to get that trust and to participate in the vehicle. It's like the Holy Grail for a CIO.
Current challenge at work: With the economic downturn, the biggest challenge is: How do we become more efficient? The SAAR [is] down to 11 million vehicles in North America this year, so we had to come to a new normal. We had to come up with more efficiency and reduced costs, but we also have to drive innovation. My biggest challenge is my biggest opportunity because I have the opportunity to bring value and competitive edge.
What you do to relax: I spend time with my family and friends. I love to travel.
— Ryan Beene