Barbara Gasper, 51
Vice President, Investor Relations, Ford Motor Co.
Education: B.S., mathematics, Bucknell University; M.B.A., Widener University
What your college professors didn't teach you: "When you are in school you learn the theoretical side of everything. Once you leave, outside forces and people components enter into the mix.
"You have to be able to manage along with theoretical learning."
First automotive job: Vice president of investor relations at Ford in 2003
- 2002 Senior vice president, investor relations, PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting, New York
- 2001-02 Vice president, investor relations, Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill, N.J.
- 1997-2001 Vice president, investor relations, Raytheon Co., Lexington, Mass.
Most fun automotive job: "Current job. This is my first automotive job. If I survived in the steel industry for 20 years, I think I will do just fine."
Proudest achievement: "I joined Lucent Technologies in February of 2001. We were in the doldrums after being the darling of Wall Street. In 2001, IR Magazine named Lucent "Most Improved IR Program."
Current challenge: "Dealing with Wall Street in a period of uncertainty, not just for Ford but for the entire industry.
"The uncertainty is magnified by the influence of hedge funds, which create a lot of noise and volatility in stock prices."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "I was surprised that the auto industry is as complicated a business as it is. When I change jobs, I tend to change industries.
"This is the fourth industry I have worked in. In the past, it has taken about a year before I really felt comfortable understanding the industry. I am just now getting to that point."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "You have to play down the fact that you are female; think as one of the guys to a certain extent. You have to be seen as somebody who gets things done, who people can count on. You have to be a team player."
What you do to relax: "I garden - digging in the dirt is great therapy. I play golf. I like to travel. My last big vacation I went to Antarctica. Now I can check the box for all seven continents."