GM vice chairman Robert Lutz will help open the new headquarters for Cadillac Europe this week.
Behrendt, 45, spent more than a decade working as a secretary before joining the purchasing team, starting at the bottom step of the ladder.
Based at Ford Europe’s headquarters here, Behrendt was the second woman ever to hold a leading position in Ford’s purchasing department. The first was Vera Schaller in the 1980s. Beherent is the only woman in Ford’s 102-year history to climb so high in the purchasing department.
She is one of two female executives with high-power positions in purchasing in Europe. The other is Odile Desforges, who is Renault’s senior vice president of purchasing and CEO Renault Nissan Purchasing Organization.
Behrendt says she works 14 hours a day because she loves what she does. “If I didn’t, I’d end up with a stomach ulcer,” she says lightly.
Although she works long hours Behrendt recognizes that not everyone else can. “A long day is OK for me, and I expect it from certain members of my team,” she said. “But I also understand that it may not be possible for everyone.”
Prior to returning to Europe, Behrendt spent five years at Ford’s corporate headquarters in the US in Dearborn, Michigan. She moved to the US in 1999 to become program manager for vehicle procurement operations and global purchasing strategies. In 2000, she was appointed director of global body and exterior purchasing.
There are items in Behrendt’s office that suggest someone with a good sense of humor. Her wall clock strikes the hour with the sound of a car engine starting. Her favorite personal item at work is a photo of her with Minnie Mouse in the US at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. “I was about 30 years older than everyone else having their picture taken but I thought it was a bit of fun,” she says. “This photo reminds me not to take things too seriously.”