Nancy Rae, 49
Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Chrysler Group
Education: B.S., business administration in management, Eastern Michigan University; M.A., industrial relations, Central Michigan University
First automotive job: Personnel systems analyst at Chrysler's Warren, Mich., truck assembly plant in 1978
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "My 27 years have all been in HR. The advantage of HR is that you get aligned with all the different functions of the company. Whether it was a mistake - or maybe just a missed opportunity - is that early in my career I didn't pursue a cross-functional assignment."
Career highlights (all with Chrysler)
- 1998 Vice president, compensation and benefits, Chrysler group; executive director, compensation and benefits, and manager, health insurance and disability
- 1996 Group human resources manager, technical operations
- 1994 Group personnel manager, Chrysler Technology Center; manager, work force diversity and economic equity
- 1992 Group personnel executive, procurement and supply, and product strategy and regulatory affairs
- 1991 Human resources executive, Acustar and procurement and supply; organization and management compensation planning executive
- 1988 Compensation executive, vehicle engineering and design office
Proudest achievement: "The proudest achievement would have to be a combination of a great family who supports me, a husband who is great supporting me, a 16-year-old daughter I am so proud of and the leadership team here. If I didn't have the strong HR team I have, I wouldn't be successful. (I am proud) that I achieved my position, which I went into five years ago at a very challenging time for the Chrysler group with the turnaround.
"The HR team played a key role strategically, which was so critical at that point. The recognition we received as an organization I don't think can ever top that. It is that balance, personally and professionally."
Current challenge: "It is the competitive environment we are in. It has never been as fierce as it is today. The biggest challenge I have is ensuring we have a competitive work force, that we have the right leadership strengths, that our employees are engaged, and that we - from a people perspective and an organization perspective - have an agility and readiness to anticipate what is next, to be ready to have the innovative product, to be the product leader. It is critical that we are strategically aligned with the business operations to ensure we are successful in the future."
On being successful: "One thing that captures it the best is Ralph Waldo Emerson's success poem. In that poem he says there is nothing that makes you feel more personally successful than winning the respect of people you respect yourself, the appreciation from critics, making a difference, adding value. I am also very involved in the community and making a difference from that perspective as much as I possibly can. To leave the world a bit better, 'whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition,' the poem says. Making a difference captures the breadth of it - from children's perspective, to the community perspective, to the 15th-floor perspective."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "How much I love it. The first day walking into a manufacturing plant I loved it, and I still do to this day. There are so many opportunities. It is a challenging, exciting business."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "I am not sure it is just for women, it is for anybody. With the breadth of opportunities there are, and the complexity and the globalization, it very much is about knowing the business.
"Growing up in the industry we were very much chimney-oriented, functionally oriented. Those days are so long gone. I would encourage women - once they know the business - to be out there, and add value and give advice and be part of decision making. The company wants that. We need that."
Job to which you aspire: "This was the ultimate position I aspired to."
What you do to relax: "I enjoy going up north (in Michigan) with my family, spending time at home doing very traditional things. I love to golf. We ski in the winter."