Director, Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge Communications, Chrysler Group
Education: B.S., civil engineering, Purdue University; M.B.A., University of Chicago
What your college professors didn't teach you: "My college degree was in engineering, so not a lot of my undergrad work was in marketing. They don't teach you how to sell an idea."
First automotive job: Manager, product planning, and global coordinator, export operations, at Ford Motor Co. in 1995
- 2001-03 Director, marketing communications, Dodge
- 2000-01 Manager, marketing communications, cars and minivans, Ford Division
- 1999-2000 Brand manager, Ford Focus
Most fun automotive job: "I've had a lot of really fun jobs, but the past four years at Chrysler have been the most fun because I've had the most freedom and autonomy to do what I thought was right. Dodge had so much rich history, but it lost some of its luster. So getting to come in and dust it off and bring back its luster - that was exciting.
"When we did the 'Grab Life by the Horns' campaign, we went around and met all the dealers. Then we did the Hemi campaign in the spring of 2002. It became really exciting because people liked it. It's always more fun to work on something the whole world is excited about."
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "The Lingerie Bowl. As we look back and try to learn from our mistakes and try to assess from a learning perspective, we did all the right things in terms of analyzing it. It wasn't mainstream, it was pay-per-view. It was inexpensive and a guerrilla marketing attack around the Super Bowl. We were exclusive. So if you look at it from a quantitative standpoint, it seemed to have minimized the risks and maximized the potential. What separates a good marketer from a great marketer is we can sometimes miss that level of intuition and creative sense. When I first heard the idea, I remember thinking, 'Wow, that could be big.' But there was this sixth sense tingling. I was able to be convinced as I asked all the important questions that it seemed like we were doing all the right things, and my gut instinct was quieted. Intuition is always important, and you have to respect that."
Proudest achievement: "The Hemi campaign, and I have a great deal of pride for having introduced the Dodge campaign in 2001 - it's the second most-recalled campaign out there behind 'Built Ford Tough,' which has 22 years on me. I'm proud of having taken the lead and managing all three brands and creating and running a team here. We're a stronger group now. We come to each other's aid, and we back each other up."
Current challenge: "It's balancing the short-term retail needs with the continued development of our brand and putting our product out there. We have terrific cars and so many third-party endorsements, and interest in our vehicles has been so strong, but we're not immune to the latest retail craze. The challenge is how do you find the balance? You don't want to suppress the sparkle that we find in our products. We have great product and know there's even more on the horizon, so we have to make sure that stays out there in equal volume."
On being successful: "My advice is always to seize the day. You have to take advantage of the things that are put forth. Nail fast-forward. You have to look for the silver lining in every situation presented to you. I've been given a lot of jobs where people have said that doesn't sound like much fun. I always jump in with both feet."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "The auto industry in Detroit surprised me most because I didn't grow up in Detroit. During my first job at Ford, I was so surprised when you meet people that most people are from this area. It's the smallest big town I have lived in in my whole life. That was the most shocking thing about the industry - that everyone knows everyone and has for many generations."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "I don't know that there's any golden ticket. We're not the majority at this point. I also don't think we experience a lot of the limitations that the women who preceded us did. I think we owe them a debt of gratitude. I don't think it's expected or needed anymore that women in the auto industry need to act like men. There's a place now for being different and offering a woman's point of view. We can offer our flavor in terms of what we know as women without being a sample of one, and it adds value and it makes meetings better. You get a diversity of opinion. Embrace the fact that you are a woman in the industry. There's a value to that."
Job to which you aspire: "To be in Joe Eberhardt's job one day and be focused in the marketing and sales area, which I love, and be able to lead it and form it. Along with that comes the aspiration to do well by my family, too. I have two kids. If I were given the chance to be the president of a company but it meant spending 20 hours less with my kids a week, I don't know that I would do it. It has to be good for me and for my family. I want them to be well-adjusted people and think of me fondly. If I leave Chrysler, will it remember? Chances are it won't, but my kids will."
What you do to relax: "I do things for me: Go to the spa, exercise or take my kids to the park."