Felicia Fields, 40
Vice President, Human Resources, Ford Motor Co.
Education: B.A., psychology, University of Michigan; M.S., administration, Central Michigan University
First automotive job: Systems analyst/programmer in information systems group at Ford Motor Co. in 1986
Most fun automotive job: "HR director for global product development and quality at Ford."
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "I brought a strategy that had worked on a previous assignment to a new job without assessing the culture in that new position. The strategy didn't work in the new assignment.
"I learned that when you change jobs, you have to assess the culture, the people, the history, what makes them proud, nervous, etc. Strategies are not portable; they are very people-sensitive."
Career highlights (all with Ford)
- 2004-05 Executive director, human resources, automotive operations and corporate staffs
- 2003-04 Executive director, human resources, the Americas
- 2001-03 Director, corporate development, corporate human resources
- 2000-01 Director, human resources business operations, global product development and quality
- 1999-2000 Manager, human resources business operations, finance
- 1998-99 Manager, human resources; Ypsilanti, Mich., plant; powertrain control systems
Proudest achievement: "I was the leader of a global team to develop the company's 'People Development Framework' in 2003, a program that centers around the salaried employees. The motto is: People success equals business success. The goal of the program is to enhance the skills and recognition of the salaried work force and focus on communication and feedback among those employees globally."
Current challenge: "Restructuring our activities globally, whether it's the unions, things like taking back Visteon, closures, layoffs, etc."
On being successful: "Hard work, having a value system and integrity. Having commitment and loving what you do. Being positive."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "That so many people are so loyal to an industry that has so many difficult features. There are long hours, good times, down times and constant pressure. Still, there is incredible loyalty and commitment by the people. You have to make personal sacrifices to help the company thrive."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "Do what you love. When challenges come, know your capabilities, know yourself and align that with the mission of the company."
Job to which you aspire: "I'm doing it. To lead HR in a company of this size is my dream in the auto industry. I would like to do more coaching with the senior execs to help them inspire and motivate their teams, to help them with their people skills so they can deliver on their strategies."
What you do to relax: "I'm a screamer at soccer games. My son is a gymnast and travels a lot, so we have fun taking those trips. I work a lot on weekends, but I also spend a lot of time with my husband and kids."