DETROIT -- Sheri Hickok has worn many hats during her swift ascent through General Motors' engineering ranks, racking up 10 job titles in a 15-year career. Her latest one comes with a pair of cowboy boots: chief engineer for GM's full-size pickups.
Hickok, 37, was assigned in December to oversee GM's most important vehicle program, the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Since then, she has been looking over clay models with designers, discussing the mix of materials that GM will use to make the trucks lighter and less thirsty, and chatting with marketers about potential new features.
It's Hickok's job to orchestrate those efforts and ensure the pickups arrive on time and on budget. The pickups are still about four years off (industry insiders expect them in late 2018 or early 2019), so she's tight-lipped on the details -- so much so that in a recent interview, she refused to divulge the state that she was soon visiting to sit in on focus groups with prospective truck buyers.
But she dropped a hint: She's buying cowboy boots.
"I'm not a traditional truck driver, so to me that process will be really powerful," she said. "The guy who owns the construction business, what does he need out of his truck? It's probably going to be something very different from what I would want. We need to channel the customer the whole time."