Cynthia Hess, 43
Partner, Heartland Industrial Partners
Education: B.S., Auburn University; M.S., electrical engineering, University of Michigan; M.B.A., Michigan State University Advanced Management Program
First automotive job: Engineer with Chrysler Corp. at Huntsville (Ala.) Electronics Plant, 1977
On being successful: "Never say never. Even with over 22 years of experience in the automotive industry, I try to always remember that my professional life is a learning adventure. The business environment is changing so quickly and it's so important to listen to new ideas, be open to change and be willing to take quantifiable risks. I've always tried to look at challenges as opportunities."
On being a woman in the industry: "When I started at Chrysler in 1977, you could count the number of female engineers on one hand. That's certainly a big difference from where we are today. But I also had opportunities to accomplish a lot of 'firsts' for women in the industry and I was able to blaze some trails."
Hess held several positions at DaimlerChrysler (formerly Chrysler Corp.), including Director, Supplier Quality and Development; Executive, Procurement and Supply Process Team; VP, Small Car Platform Engineering; and VP, Corporate Quality.