We salute Cynthia Trudell, and we welcome her to the top echelon of U.S. auto executives.
As chairman and president of Saturn Corp. come Jan. 1, she'll be one of the highest-ranking females in the industry. One thing for sure: She will be the most visible female auto exec ever in the United States.
In naming Trudell to her new post, General Motors stressed that she 'will have responsibility ... for leading Saturn's operations, including sales, service, marketing, engineering, manufacturing' and labor relations. She has it all - including product.
Trudell is an engineering and manufacturing specialist. She has headed a GM truck-making operation in England, worked in GM's powertrain operations, managed a foundry and run an assembly plant.
Trudell is one of a growing group of female auto leaders - proof that while the auto industry learns slowly, it does learn. It is no longer brushing aside the talents of a large segment of its employees.
To list but a few, Helen Petrauskas heads environmental and safety engineering at Ford Motor Co.; she has been a Ford vice president since 1983. Janet Mullins is Ford's vice president of Washington affairs. Bobbie Gaunt is president of Ford of Canada, and Maureen Kempston Darkes is president of GM of Canada.
Shirley Young is GM's vice president for China strategic development. Lynn Myers recently was promoted to division marketing general manager for Pontiac-GMC, and Karen Francis holds that job at Oldsmobile.
Kathleen Oswald was human resources vice president for Chrysler Corp. and is co-director of those activities for parent DaimlerChrysler AG. Kathleen Barclay is GM's new vice president in charge of global human resources.
There should be more, and there will be. One of these days, Automotive News will not write an editorial like this when a woman is promoted to a high post. It will not be big news anymore.