100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry
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Chris BARMAN

Vehicle Line Executive, E Segment Vehicles • Chrysler Group • Age 38
 
 
 
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Why did you want to work in the auto industry? When I first started at Purdue and went into mechanical engineering, I was good at math and science. I thought I was going to become a pediatrician. Through my summer internship at GM, I realized I liked this car thing.

During my junior year I did a summer internship at Chrysler, and I worked on the Viper program. If that doesn't convince you to be interested, I don't know what will.

First automotive job: I was an intern with General Motors in the summer of 1991. I worked at Inland Fisher Guide in Anderson, Ind.

Proudest professional achievement: I was one of the first who worked on the knowledge transfer [from Mercedes-Benz] of the electronic stability program, and I stuck with that on the first implementation on vehicles like the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Magnum. It saved lives.

Current challenge at work: I'm responsible for 300, Charger and Challenger rear-drive platforms. We're continuing to improve our quality on those vehicles as well as working with the team on the new products.

Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for female executives? It is a predominantly male industry, especially on the engineering side. That said, I've never had anything held against me for being a female. I look at the talent in the room, not the sex or the race of the people. I have worked on programs where I was the only female. I worked six months on the Mercedes chassis control team. There were two women in a group of about 200.

What you do to relax: Growing up in Indiana, I played basketball. I continue to play basketball recreationally. I like spending time with my family and doing home-improvement projects.

— Bradford Wernle

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