Louise Goeser, 52
Vice President; President and CEO, Ford of Mexico, Ford Motor Co.
Education: B.S., mathematics, Pennsylvania State University; M.B.A., University of Pittsburgh
What your college professors didn't teach you: "The importance of teamwork, communications and relationships in business."
First automotive job: Vice president of quality at Ford in 1999
Most fun automotive job: "By far, Ford of Mexico. No question. This is a fabulous assignment."
- 1999-2004 Vice president, quality, Ford
- 1996-99 Vice president and general manager, refrigeration, Whirlpool Corp., Benton Harbor, Mich.
- 1994-96 Vice president, quality, Whirlpool
- 1990-94 Environmental director, Westinghouse Electric Corp., Pittsburgh
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "The main thing I've learned in my career is it's really important, especially with big decisions, to work with people ahead of time and then bring it all together in meetings and decision.
I think in the beginning of my career, I really thought you go to a meeting to make all the decisions, have the discussions. But in many cases, there's a lot of work you need to do ahead of time, so that by the time you get to the meeting, you really have a lot of alignment around issues.
"It took me a while to understand that."
Proudest achievement: "Probably getting this job."
Current challenge: "To continue to successfully and profitably grow Ford of Mexico as part of the overall Ford enterprise."
On being successful: "Define success from your own standpoint. What does it mean to you, not necessarily what might be considered common perception. Time is very short; life is very short, so make sure you're doing something you really, really enjoy. Then I think the rest comes more naturally."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "The biggest surprise to me is how much fun it is to be responsible for products that people absolutely relate to. When you meet someone for the first time, it could be even on a plane, and you say you work for Ford Motor Co., you have an instant rapport. People love to talk about their vehicles. It's such an important part of their lives, their lifestyle. They all have ideas and suggestions. So it's a product area that's very fascinating to be inside of the business, but you relate to everybody you meet.
"I can tell you, when I met someone and said, 'I'm from Whirlpool, and I run refrigeration,' I never got the same kind of response, 'Oh, let me tell you about my refrigerator.' "
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "Deliver results that matter to the business, measurable results. Secondly, the whole idea of how do you help to develop and bring together people to common goals. Really the whole success to me of business is the ability to bring people together toward a common goal and develop them and their skills."
Job to which you aspire: "I'd like to run a company. So if I was talking about Ford, COO, I guess. At Ford, there is a CEO. Bill (Ford) is there for a long time, so at Ford, it would be COO."
What you do to relax: "I like to be mentally stimulated as well as be active. I enjoy reading, plays, sports, doing active things.
"My latest passion is horseback riding. I also like to do biking and kayaking, though I'm not really doing much of that in Mexico. We go to the gym regularly. And, of course, always spend time with my family."