Why did you want to work in the auto industry? I grew up in the Detroit area so I was around the auto industry my entire life. Coming out of college in the mid-'80s, the auto industry was really starting to get back on its feet, and I loved the product.

First automotive job: Process engineer at Ford in 1986.

Proudest professional achievement: When I look back over my career, what I always feel the best about is when you have a team that really comes together and produces great results. You see it in the product, but most importantly you see these team members grow and do things they didn't think they could do before.

My team right now is an example: The North America portion has been together five years. We started with a new organization. I watched the team grow and develop, and I see the results on the interior of our vehicles. It is incredibly rewarding.

Current challenge at work: The biggest challenge is trying to run a global team. It's challenging from a travel perspective. It's challenging from the product and knowing what the customer wants in all of these different markets and ensuring we deliver the interiors they love.

On speaking up: In my first month of working in the industry, I was 21 or 22, and I traveled to a plant with my boss. He was happy to have me on his team, but he hadn't had women working for him before. As we're out in the plant, he called me "Honey."

I said, "You know, we'll get along really well if we call each other by our first names."

I said it in a respectful way because he didn't say it in a demeaning way. He didn't intend it that way, but I also wasn't comfortable with it. His reaction was equally professional.

Years later when he retired, he said to me: "At that moment, I knew I could leave you in the plant alone. It was really great that you were true to yourself and that you had expectations but did it professionally and respectfully."

That moment taught me I had to stick up for myself.

I worked in the plant for 17 years and never had anyone be disrespectful to me.

What you do to relax: I just started piano lessons, and I love it. It is so relaxing it's unbelievable. It's one of those things I've wanted to do my whole life. Talk about humbling!

I try to prioritize time with family and friends. I find that is a way to really help you unwind, and that's really important to me.

— Jamie LaReau

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