Linda Miller, 55
Manufacturing Director, Powertrain Operations, Ford Motor Co.
Education: B.S., mathematics, Northeast Missouri State University; M.A., mathematics, University of Kansas; M.B.A., University of Detroit-Mercy
What your college professors didn't teach you: "How to juggle competing priorities."
First automotive job: Warranty analyst at Ford's powertrain division in 1973
Career highlights (all with Ford)
- 2002-05 Manufacturing director, casting and small V-engines, powertrain operations
- 1999-2002 Manufacturing director, casting and forging operations, powertrain operations
- 1997-99 Director, manufacturing business office
- 1994-97 Director, supplier technical assistance, purchasing
- 1993-94 Plant manager, Dearborn (Mich.) Engine and Fuel Tank Plant
Most fun automotive job: "Running a plant and daily interaction with so many people."
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "While one of my direct reports was on vacation, I hired someone into that department. It didn't work out well, and we had to eventually let that new person go. Ilearned that you should not make major decisions for people in your organization."
Proudest achievement: "Seeing people I've brought in grow and being in successful positions themselves. The biggest legacy I can leave is good people."
Current challenge: "In these difficult financial times, the biggest challenge is helping plant managers stay focused on the issues and focused on making progress as opposed to concern and worry."
On being successful: "Choose something that you really enjoy. Keep in mind the human side of the issues and have caring for people in the organization. Then people will work harder to deliver results."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "It was surprising to me how many people in the industry did not know how cars are designed and built."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "Build networks. Know people to go to if you need information. Know the politics and how to work the politics."
Job to which you aspire: "I am always looking for something different, but I am happy with my current job. I don't want to be CEO of Ford Motor Co."
What you do to relax: "I love to read, garden, golf and go boating with my husband."