Vice President and General Manager, Purchasing, North America, Johnson Controls Inc.
Education: B.S., industrial administration, General Motors Institute; M.B.A., Oakland University
What your college professors didn't teach you: "The need to have excellent working relationships with those you engage with. I think the university community is very focused on teaching theory. But when it comes down to it, you have to be able to interact with people effectively."
First automotive job: Production supervisor at General Motors plant in 1985
- 2004 Vice president, customer business units strategies, Johnson Controls
- 2002-04 Vice president and general manager, Ford business unit, North America, JCI
- 2001-02 General manager, Ford business unit, JCI
- 2000-01 Vehicle line executive, DaimlerChrysler business unit, JCI
- 1998-2000 Director, purchasing, JCI
- 1996-98 Supplier quality manager, mid-luxury car division, General Motors
- 1995-96 Purchasing agent, Cadillac/Luxury Car Division, GM
Most fun automotive job: "Advance quality manager for interiors on GM's mid-luxury segment."
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "Early on, I took on a task that I was ill-prepared for from the beginning. It was a mathematical model of all the vehicles GM produced. I then had to present the predicted outlook from a model capacity versus demand.
"I spent the whole night at work right before the presentation. In way over my head, I managed to put something together that just really wasn't good. My biggest mistake was taking on more than I could accomplish and not having the maturity to understand that from the beginning."
Proudest achievement: "Having the courage to take the risk to adopt our children. We have three."
Current challenge: "Dealing with the global economic climate and balancing the demands of automotive companies and suppliers."
On being successful: "Being successful means that people have a well-rounded approach to whatever job they have at the time. They have a broader perspective. They have the right skill set. And they are willing to work hard."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "The complexity of bringing vehicles to the market. I came into the auto industry when I was 18. I had no concept of what it took. That complexity is thousands of parts, made by thousands of engineers, that were made by thousand of suppliers.
"I always thought I was going to grow up to be a lawyer or a judge. Getting into the auto industry was a little bit of chance and luck."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "You have to be willing to work hard. You also have to figure out how to maintain the balance between personal priorities and work priorities. That might mean figuring out how to outsource things you would typically do on your own - child care, cleaning service, etc. It's very challenging as a woman in the industry to keep track of all the things we have to keep track of.
"There is a trade-off on how many hours you get to spend with your kids. I try to balance my family time. I travel a moderate amount."
What you do to relax: "Water-skiing, reading, swimming and cooking. I love to cook, but I never have time to watch the cooking channel."