Cynthia Conn Henderson, 38
Director, Manufacturing Quality, DaimlerChrysler
Education: B.A., economics, Michigan State University; M.A., industrial relations, Wayne State University
First automotive job: Summer internship as Reliability Engineer, Pontiac Fiero Assembly Plant, General Motors, 1985
Proudest achievement: "Working with the supply base to create a proactive approach to handle new-product development. I realized that suppliers are key to our success, and if they are successful so are we. As a result, at Lear we developed an entire organization called Advanced Supplier Technical Assistance to work proactively with suppliers prior to launch to minimize risk and to improve suppliers' quality, processes and overall business. This allowed us to partner with them in future programs and to improve customer satisfaction."
On being successful: "Balance is the key to success. To be balanced means bouncing out of bed in the morning, excited about going to work and at the end of the day being excited about going home."
On being a woman in the industry: "Automotive is a great career for women. I feel the best way to enter the business is to spend time right out of college in an assembly plant or manufacturing environment. It gets into your blood and it quickly becomes a passion. I had been very lucky in my early years in an assembly plant to have great mentors. People who had a lot of years of experience and knowledge took time to teach the trade. I feel strongly about making time to do the same. I enjoy mentoring young women in the business. Young women need to know there are other women like them out there. And, yes, you can have it all. "
Positions at Lear Corp., Southfield, Mich., include:
- 1999-2000 VP-Quality, Ford Division
- 1999 Director, Global Supplier Development
- 1997-99 Manager, Supplier Technical Assistance, United Technologies Automotive, Dearborn, Mich. (Lear acquired UTA in 1999.)
- 1995-96 Manager, Quality Control, Lincoln Mark VIII, Ford Motor Co. Wixom (Mich.) Assembly Plant