Jill Lajdziak, 48
General Manager, Saturn Division, General Motors
Education: B.S., business marketing and management, University of Wisconsin
First automotive job: District sales manager at Chevrolet in 1980
Most fun automotive job: "Starting up the Saturn brand. It was a blast to create a brand and go to market with it in 1986. We had to think through how to improve business at every turn."
Career highlights (all with GM)
- 1997-99 Executive director, marketing and retail network development, Saturn
- 1995-97 Executive director, customer/retail operations and strategies team, Saturn
- 1989-95 Manager, central region, Saturn
- 1987-89 Manager, retail network development, Saturn
- 1986-87 Manager, retailer selection Saturn
- 1984-86 Assistant manager, merchandising, General Motors
- 1983-84 Metro district sales manager, Chevrolet
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "At times a little more patience is good."
Proudest achievement: "Being part of the team that built the Saturn network. And now, doubling the product portfolio."
Current challenge: "We're casting the net wider to get ready for three new products."
On being successful: "I've learned that success comes from your relationships. At the end of the day it's all about relationships with the stakeholders you work with."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "This business changes every day, and every day there's something new to tackle. That hasn't changed in 25 years at GM."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "Our industry, like all others, is about a lot of hard work. No one will succeed if you're not passionate about the product or service you represent. Patience, tenacity and focus is key."
Job to which you aspire: "I love what I'm doing. I want to continue to do a great job and grow this brand, and I'd love to see us triple the portfolio. We've got a lot to accomplish, and my focus isn't about another position; it's about getting the job done for the brand and delivering the commitment we made to the network."
What you do to relax: "I enjoy golfing, spending time with my family, and I've been known to enjoy a cold beer."