Sandra Gillespie, 51
Senior Vice President, Procurement and Supply, Mitsubishi
Education: Bachelor's, business administration, St. Ambrose University
What your college professors didn't teach you: "The politics of business."
First automotive job: Staff coordinator in production control at Diamond-Star Motors Corp. (now Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. Manufacturing Division) in 1989
Most fun automotive job: "Starting up a separate service parts division at Diamond-Star Motors."
- 2003-04 Vice president, planning and logistics, Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. Manufacturing Division, Normal, Ill.
- 1999-2003 General manager, production control, Mitsubishi Motors North America
- 1991-99 Manager, service parts and packaging, Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Inc.
- 1990-91 Branch manager, service parts, Diamond-Star Motors Corp.
- 1989-90 Staff member, Diamond-Star Motors
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "I'm very outspoken and honest, but I learned that I need to try a different approach sometimes. By being direct, sometimes you don't get the support from others. I need to choose my battles and not take on every issue."
Proudest achievement: "In 1990, I started a separate service parts department. When I first started in service parts, it was under product planning and not a separate division."
Current challenge: "Cost reduction and dealing with suppliers. It's a tough industry out there right now with all of the raw material costs increasing and volumes going down in the auto industry."
On being successful: "To believe in yourself and believe you can do anything you set your mind to. My grandparents taught me to get an education, and that's how you pave your way to better things."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "How quickly things can change - technology, product, etc."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "Focus on being an individual and be confident with yourself. I see myself as an individual first, not a woman. Find a trustworthy mentor and seek advice whenever you get frustrated."
Job to which you aspire: "I like being here. It's great to have the entire supply chain area working for me so I can make decisions based on all aspects of the supply chain."
What you do to relax: "Read books."