Katy Barclay, 49
Vice President, Global Human Resources, General Motors
Education: Bachelor's, business, Michigan State University; M.B.A., Sloan Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
What your college professors didn't teach you: "Common sense is one of the most important things in the business world."
First automotive job: Human resources professional at GM in 1978
Career highlights (all with GM)
- 1996-98 General director, human resource management, GM North America Operations
- 1995-96 Director, human resources, vehicle sales, service and marketing
- 1992-95 Director, compensation
- 1991-92 Manager, executive compensation, Chevrolet-Pontiac-GM of Canada group
- 1988-91 Manager, labor relations, Chevrolet-Pontiac-GM of Canada group
- 1987-88 Manager, salaried personnel corporate staffs
- 1985-87 Member, human resources team, technical staffs
- 1978-81 Various positions, corporate personnel
Proudest achievement: "Having a really rich career with a large global company, as well as a great marriage and fabulous kids. When I was younger, an older woman told me I was going to have to make a lot of trade-offs. She couldn't have been more wrong."
On being successful: "If you can put yourself in the other person's position, look at an issue or challenge objectively, and see the issue from their lens and from your lens at the same time, you will be very successful. Great leadership is the ability to articulate in a very compelling way your vision and engage people in a positive way to join with you to achieve that vision."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "The auto industry is misunderstood. I don't think people have a good understanding of what it is, what it is like, how you design, develop, manufacture and sell great products. People who come to work at General Motors are surprised by how challenging it is, how complex it is. It's more exciting than they ever thought. It is not for the faint of heart."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "Have a penchant for learning. That is how to build credibility and confidence. Grow your knowledge of the business as fast as you can."
Job to which you aspire: "I am thinking more about leaving the right legacy than about career aspirations.
"I have been in this job for six years building a strong human resources community. I would want it to be stronger after I leave."
What you do to relax: "I spend time with my family. I go to my two sons' baseball games."