From the compact Ranger to the mammoth Super Duty, Lisa Drake has worked on each of Ford’s light trucks during her years in engineering and product development.
Now, nearly a quarter-century into her Ford career, Drake is tackling her biggest role yet: purchasing the parts necessary to produce the company’s vehicles.
Drake joined Ford in 1994 after earning a degree in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. In her early days, she worked on the product development teams for the Ranger, Explorer, Expedition and Navigator. Her big break came in 2004 when she led the F-150 product and launch team during construction of the Dearborn Truck Plant at the Ford Rouge Center.
“I got an appreciation of what it takes for the manufacturing arm to build a plant, train a work force and make trucks every minute,” she said. “It taught me a whole different point of view on clock speed.”
Following a stint with Ford’s Super Duty, she moved to the hybrid vehicle team, leading the development of the Fusion and MKZ hybrids as well as the C-Max hybrid and Energi. Despite apparent differences between her roles with Ford trucks and hybrids, Drake says there were some similarities between the programs.
“There’s something that gets in your blood when you work at Ford,” she said. “The funny thing was, between the truck and hybrid team, it’s the same feeling — the feeling that you’re working on these products that are so distinctly designed to help people in their work and in their lives.”
Drake, who joined Ford’s purchasing team in 2013, said her current role takes her back to her roots, since now she’s helping Ford’s product development team find strong supplier partners for, among other vehicles, an upcoming slew of hybrids and battery electric vehicles.
And although she’s touched almost every major vehicle Ford’s produced in recent years, she’s most excited about a crossover still in development: the tentatively titled Mach 1 battery electric crossover, inspired by the Mustang.
“As the ex-battery electric chief engineer 10 years ago, I can’t wait to drive that car,” she said. “It’s really going to showcase the best of Ford Motor Co.”
-- Michael Martinez