Barb Brown, 45
Senior Partner, Executive Management Director, Ford Retail, J. Walter Thompson
Education: B.A ., communication arts and sciences, Michigan State University; M.A., communication arts and sciences, Michigan State University
First automotive job: Print traffic coordinator for Cadillac at D'Arcy-MacManus & Masius in 1983
Most fun automotive job: "Working on the Ford truck business at JWT in the 1990s. Ford trucks are such a great product ... so much consumer and manufacturer passion for them. There were and still are so many unique, exciting marketing options for these trucks."
Career highlights (all with JWT)
- 2004-05 Executive management director, Ford Division Brand
- 2002-04 Group brand director, Ford car
- 1999-2002 Group brand director, Ford Division events and alliances
- 1997-99 Group brand director, Ford primary brand, women's marketing
Proudest achievement: "Being part of the Ford Division/JWT team that last year launched six vehicles in just 12 months."
Current challenge: "I think everyone's current challenge in Detroit is getting the domestic automotive manufacturers back on track. This is critical for the future of great American brands like Ford, for the future of the original Motor City and for all the talented people here associated with these great brands. Our job in marketing is to get the consumer's perception of these brands' quality and attributes aligned with what is now a much more positive reality."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "When I was in college, it was always implied that the career gold standard in advertising was to work on packaged goods businesses in New York or Chicago. So being a native Detroiter, I figured I'd start out here, get some experience and use it to eventually move on to Chicago. But very early on I was bitten by the automotive bug. Now I've been a part of the automotive industry most of my career, and the experience has been more rewarding than I ever expected. I've worked on some of the all-time-great iconic brands, am constantly challenged and have had the privilege of working with many fascinating, incredibly talented people. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "Find something you love and do it. Find your passion. I believe if you love what you do, you have found success."
What you do to relax: "I spend time at the gym, am an avid golfer and love to cook and entertain."