Sandra Bouckley, 46
Plant Manager, Pilot Process Verification Center, Conner Ave. Assembly Plant and Sterling Heights Vehicle Test Center, Chrysler Group
Education: Bachelor's, mechanical engineering, General Motors Institute; M.S., manufacturing engineering, General Motors Institute; M.B.A., Michigan State University
What your college professors didn't teach you: "How to communicate with people and how to get the most out of people who work with you."
First automotive job: Experimental test engineer at GM's Oshawa, Ontario, assembly plant in 1982
Most fun automotive job: "The job I have now. I build (Dodge) Vipers. How much more fun does it get than that? It is the hottest, sexiest car we build. We get to interact with customers because they come in and pick up the cars. And in the pilot plants we impact the future of the company. We influence quality, profit and product. This job has got it all."
Career highlights (all with Chrysler)
- 2001-03 Plant manager, St. Louis (South) minivan assembly
- 1995-2001 Director, minivan platform advance manufacturing engineering
- 1993-95 Plant manager, Pillette Road (Windsor, Ontario) Truck Assembly
- 1992-93 Plant manager, Canadian Fabricated Products
- 1990-92 Center manager, assembly, Jefferson North (Detroit) Assembly
- 1990 Operations manager, Warren (Mich.) Truck Assembly
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "There was a point in my career when I did not take the advice of the person who was my strongest mentor. I learned my mentor had more perspective on the situation than I did."
Proudest achievement: "I am delighted that I have risen to the level of plant manager in our company.
"The thing that is wonderful for me is the opportunity to mentor young women and men coming up in the system. I feel terrific when someone I have mentored is able to rise in the ranks in the company."
Current challenge: "We're changing the way we do business at both the pilot plant and Conner assembly. How we can add more value back into the company. How we can identify issues and opportunities for improvement in the product earlier so that design, engineering and manufacturing have a greater opportunity to make changes and ensure a quality vehicle. We're working on changing the whole process and making pilots be stronger and more integral to what goes on in our company."
On being successful: "In addition to contributing to the overall well-being of the company, I am a plant manager; I am a mentor; I am a leader in the company; I am a wife, a mother, a Girl Scout leader. I feel my life is well-balanced in terms of family, community and work and that I am able to balance all of these demands and give back to the community and be effective at work."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "I was surprised at how slowly the auto industry was to accept women into the top ranks. Our boards aren't widely represented with women. The vice president ranks are still dragging a little bit behind other industries."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "Now is a great time for women to be getting into the industry. Their opinions will be valued. You need to be true to yourself and data-driven.
"Our business relies on facts and data. You have to speak from a position of understanding the data. You have to understand your competition, the whole environment, because it is a global industry. I think the sky is the limit for a young woman coming out of college now with an engineering degree."
Job to which you aspire: "I want to move into a position where I have expanded influence on the future of the company."
What you do to relax: "Our family likes to do things together. We like to do watersports. We like our dirt bikes. I like to get lost in fiction. I am a co-leader of a junior Girl Scout troop."