100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry
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Beth SCHWARTING

General Director, Electronic Controls • Delphi Electronics and Safety • Age 47
 
 
 
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Why did you want to work in the auto industry? I came from Eastman Kodak, and I would say it wasn't the industry as much as it was Delphi that appealed to me. I was really excited at what Delphi had to offer as a newly independent company in 1999, with a very large IPO. It was a very exciting time for the company, and I was very impressed with the technology. It got me interested in automotive.

First automotive job: When I came to Delphi in 1999, I was global customer director for General Motors.

Proudest professional achievement: Achieving the position I have now as a business leader. Coming from a sales background and not the engineering background, which is where most of the people I work with come from. Understanding the product with enough depth to feel comfortable to move into a general management role.

Current challenge at work: Balancing the global markets and balancing the global products. Most of us come from a regional market, and we need to make sure we have a good understanding of the rest of the world, culturally.

Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for female executives? There's a higher percentage of men here than at Eastman Kodak, but I never felt that I wasn't welcome. I think traditionally women have not so much migrated toward the math and science fields. It's promoting more math and science fields to women to get them interested. The women at Delphi have very fulfilling careers. And if they leave, they typically join other automotive companies. I think there's a glue that runs through you once you join this industry.

Dream job: I truly enjoy general management. I love the business aspect because you truly have responsibility, visibility, accountability into every aspect of the business. I want to continue in the general management field. I want to accept more responsibility and challenges, and if it comes with a promotion, that would be great. President of a division would be certainly one of the ambitions that I have.

On being the boss: In some cultures it's different, of course, and someone — generally it's a man who works for me — will introduce me as their boss, and people will be surprised — "You're the boss!" I think you just have to accept it as the culture's changing, and every culture changes at a different speed. I don't think there's any disrespect intended by it, and I think you just accept it and move on.

What you do to relax: Spend time with family. I run daily, around 4:15 a.m. If I don't run, I usually don't have a good day, so I try and squeeze it in. I also ride my horse, Cashel Blue.

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