DETROIT - One discussion changed Anne Asensio's life. Now one of GM's lead designers hopes she can have that same dialogue with someone else.
"I would not be here if not for the advice of one teacher," says Asensio, GM's executive director of advanced design.
Nearly 20 years ago, Asensio was a student in Paris on her way to a career in architecture. When the time came to choose her final path, one person altered everything.
"My teacher came to me and said, 'Don't stay in architecture. No, I tell you, design is the way to go,' " Asensio remembers. "He pitched me. I shifted. And I have never regretted it."
Nearly 20 years later, Asensio, 43, has worked her way to an executive position at GM design.
Asensio visits schools trying to encourage freshmen women to pursue automotive design.
"It's best sometimes to go down and meet students and talk to them to identify potential in some women, even if they are not considering car design. It's good to encourage them, to show them and demonstrate your experiences," she says. "When they say, 'Oh, I'm not sure,' I say, 'You should be sure. This can be a great career.' "
Asensio knows. She has worked her way through the ranks - from chief designer in Renault's Advanced Design Car Center to Director of Design for Renault's medium-sized cars to her current position at GM.
And within GM she makes a point to meet regularly with the automaker's Women's Advisory Council as well as informally with other female engineers, sculptors and designers, discussing the important issues and ensuring that they are receiving the right kind of feedback regularly.
"I have to listen to what they say and try to improve their situation because I know that's the only way to get more," she says.
When Asensio returns to schools each year, she brings that experience and the perspective of working in a field dominated by men. And she never forgets the one person who changed everything in her life.
Anne Asensi: "I've never regretted it."
You may e-mail Jason Stein at [email protected]