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Saluting the next generation of leaders

Saluting the next generation of leaders

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 7 2014
When a 30-something gets a critically important executive position usually entrusted to a 50-something, well, Automotive News pays close attention. That's because -- late bloomers aside -- these are the young titans who tend to climb to the upper echelons of their companies. ... » story 
Lauren Abro
Age: 32
Title: Senior engineer, vehicle performance development division, Toyota Technical Center
Big break: Hiring on at Toyota fresh out of the University of Michigan
John Absmeier
Age: 39
Title: Director, Delphi Labs @ Silicon Valley, Delphi Automotive
Big break:Asked to launch Delphi's Mountain View, Calif., technical center in 2012
Christos Agouridis
Age: 39
Title: Chief engineer for body exterior engineering, Honda R&D Americas
Big break: Being assigned to work on the 2006 Civic at Honda's r&d center in Japan
Aamir Ahmed
Age: 30
Title: Product marketing manager, SRT (formerly marketing manager, Uconnect), Chrysler Group
Big break: Meeting Chrysler design chief Ralph Gilles at a go-cart track
Jim Baudino
Age: 38
Title: Manager of engagement marketing, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
Big break: Running Toyota's "Prove It" tour, putting 125,000 consumers in the 2007 Tundra at fairs, racetracks and parking lots
Filip Brabec
Age: 38
Title: Director of product planning, Audi of America
Big break: The fall of the Iron Curtain
Winnie Cheung
Age: 31
Title: Interior design manager, Chrysler Group
Big break: Assigned to the midcycle refreshing of the 2011 Dodge Journey interior
Anna-Lisa Corrales
Title: General counsel, Jaguar Land Rover North America
Age: 38
Big break: Getting hired to build Jaguar Land Rover's U.S. legal department from scratch
Kemal Curic
Age: 35
Title: Lead exterior designer, 2015 Ford Mustang
Big break: Getting a chance to submit a drawing for the proposed 2015 Mustang
Clemens and Elizabeth Denks
Clemens Denks: Age: 38
Title: General manager of investor relations, Volkswagen Group of America

Elizabeth Denks: Age: 33
Title: Assistant general counsel, Volkswagen Credit Inc.
Robbie Diamond
Age: 39
Title: Founder and president, Electrification Coalition
Big break: Helped shape Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007
Robert Filipovic
Age: 33
Title: General manager of product planning, Jaguar North America
Big break: Joining the retailer business development staff at BMW Canada
Henry Ford III
Age: 33
Title: Lincoln area manager, West Market Area
Mayra Gonzalez
Age: 37
Title: Regional vice president of sales, Nissan Mexicana
Big break: Being appointed Nissan's director of dealer development in Mexico and leading the strategic restructuring of the dealer network
Erik Gottfried
Age: 37
Title: Director of customer quality and dealer network development, Nissan North America
Big break: A 2009-11 assignment to Brazil as part of a small Nissan team with sales, manufacturing, product planning and finance responsibilities
James Grace
Age: 33
Title: Director of advanced automotive engineering, Panasonic Corp.
Big break: At 23, he was asked to integrate a hard drive into the Cadillac CTS, the first GM vehicle to get one.
Kevin Heintz
Age: 37
Title: Managing director of the GM business unit for Johnson Controls Automotive Seating
Big break: In 2002, JCI hired him away from ExxonMobil to work on Toyota seat contracts.
Jacob Harb
Age: 34
Title: Manager of electric vehicle operations and strategy, BMW of North America
Big break: Overseeing a study in the United States that contributed to BMW's global Strategy Number One plan
Bruce Hopkins
Age: 37
Title: Co-founder and vice president of sales and business development, BT Software
Big break: Met GM representatives at a connected car conference in 2011, beginning discussions that led to his app being bundled with the Chevrolet AppShop
Andre Hudson
Age: 37
Title: Design manager, Hyundai Design North America
Big break: Designing the exterior of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata
Sona Iliffe-Moon
Age: 33
Title: Manager of product launch marketing communications, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
Big break: Moving from Toyota's PR department to marketing communications
Lee Jelenic
Age: 34
Title: Lincoln marketing manager
Big break: Working for John Felice
Minyang Jiang
Age: 29
Title: Brand manager for the Transit, Transit Connect and E series, Ford Motor Co.
Big break: Joining Ford's marketing leadership program
Susann Kazunas
Age: 38
Title: General manager, production engineering (stamping), Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America
Big break: Winning a spot in the design department, where she ruled on whether the sheet metal could handle styling intentions
Ricky Lao
Age: 39
Title: Senior manager of product planning, Hyundai Motor America
Big break: Joining Lexus' product planning department in 2006
Melody Lee
Age: 33
Title: Director of brand and reputation strategy, Cadillac
Big break: Advising the International Olympic Committee before the 2008 Summer Games
Julius Marchwicki
Age: 31
Title: Global product manager for Sync AppLink, Ford Motor Co.
Big break: Standing onstage, Steve Jobs-style, and presenting Ford's Sync AppLink technology at the 2010 International CES in Las Vegas
Amy Meszaros
Age: 39
Title: Manager, North American Cost Strategy Division, Honda North America
Big break: Getting assigned to analyze model startup costs
Rana Mohtadi
Age: 38
Title: Principal scientist, Toyota Research Institute North America, Toyota Technical Center
Big break: Toyota came calling after she received a doctorate that focused on fuel cell vehicles.
Ryan Nagode
Age: 33
Title: Chief designer for interiors, Ram/SRT/Fiat (N.A.), Chrysler Group
Big break: Chrysler interiors honcho Klaus Busse picked him for his team.
Adam Phelps
Age: 38
Title: Senior purchasing manager, Ford Motor Co. North American interior purchasing
Big break: Promoted to supervisor level in 2007 as the industry began to stall. As Ford reduced its work force, he says: "It forced the remaining people to take on greater levels of responsibility."
Sandeep Punater
Age: 39
Title: North American engineering director of electronic controls, Delphi Automotive
Big break: In 2000, he was asked to develop sensors for a collision warning system for a German automaker
Marcell Ruoff
Age: 33
Title: General manager of controlling, Mercedes-Benz USA
Big break: 2008 promotion to executive assistant for the worldwide head of sales controlling
Duncan Scarry
Age: 39
Title: Founder and general manager, Haystak Digital Marketing
Big break: Creating the Haystak digital advertising platform
Heiko Schmidt
Age: 34
Title: Department manager, product management compact cars, Mercedes-Benz USA
Big break: Taking over as SLK product manager
John Shon
Age: 34
Title: Manager of product planning, Hyundai Motor America
Big break: Being assigned to head product planning for 2011 Sonata
Kim Stonehouse
Age: 31
Title: Industry development manager for automotive, Google
Big break: Joining the search giant in 2006 just as the auto industry adopted paid search ads
Ryan Vaughan
Age: 34
Title: Lead interior designer for performance cars, General Motors
Big break: His theme for the 2014 Corvette cockpit was chosen in a global design competition.
Allyson Witherspoon
Age: 37
Title: Director of marketing communications and media, Infiniti North America
Big break: Moving to New York to work as an onsite marketing consultant at Mercedes-Benz. "It made me realize I could have a profession based on a passion."
Erin Wormald
Age: 37
Title: Program manager, ArcelorMittal Global Research & Development
Big break: Taking part in a project to re-engineer key components of a typical C-segment vehicle to reduce weight
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