Nancy Fein, 51
Vice President, Lexus Customer Services, Toyota Motor Company
Education: B.S., mathematics, Rochester Institute of Technology; M.B.A., UCLA
What your college professors didn't teach you: "The relationships that you build and develop are much more far-reaching than any project management skills you develop. I've been in the field organization for six years before this, working with dealers. The relationships with dealers are more important than anything you do."
First automotive job: Service administrator in the warranty department at Toyota in 1982
Career highlights (all with Toyota)
- 2002-05 General manager, Kansas City region, Toyota Division
- 2000-02 Assistant general manager, Los Angeles region, Toyota Division
- 1999-2000 Customer service operations manager, Los Angeles region, Toyota Division
- 1997-99 Corporate manager, New Era Business development
- 1995-97 National manager, retail development
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "When I was national manager of parts supply, I was responsible for all parts going to North American dealers. Sheet metal crash parts have an annual weather-related cycle. In October I thought we were way oversupplied and overstocked at our parts distribution centers, so I cut our orders way back because I thought it followed just-in-time inventory. Then the biggest January blizzard ever hit the East Coast. We couldn't get sheet metal for Camry customers for three months. We were putting people in rentals. It was horrible. I don't think we've run out of sheet metal since."
Proudest achievement: "Getting to be a vice president at Toyota. It's always something you aspire to, but it's a really select group that makes vice president. I was a general manager for the Kansas City region before this, and there were only two women regional general managers. It's a huge vote of confidence in my capabilities."
Current challenge: "Maintaining and recouping the high level of customer satisfaction, customer retention and advocacy that Lexus has come to stand for. With our sales growth, our units in operation have doubled in the last three years and will double again by 2010. To be number one in the industry, we have to meet the expectations of our customers, especially as the number of customers keeps growing."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "Don't limit your opportunities. Go with your strengths. Be willing to take risks. I lived in Kansas City for three years while my husband stayed in Los Angeles. It takes a guy who has confidence in himself to have that kind of marriage."
What you do to relax: "I enjoy flying planes, scuba diving, playing tennis and golf."