Sue Cischke, 51
Vice President, Environmental and Safety Engineering, Ford Motor Co.
Education: B.S., engineering, Oakland University; M.S., mechanical engineering, University of Michigan-Dearborn; M.A., management, University of Michigan-Dearborn
What your college professors didn't teach you: "The world doesn't run by logic. Most people don't make logical decisions based on logical data, as engineers do."
First automotive job: Engineering staff member at Chrysler Corp. in 1976
Most fun automotive job: "Running the proving grounds for Chrysler Corp. It was like being the mayor of a little city."
- 1999-2001 Senior vice president, regulatory affairs and passenger car operations, DaimlerChrysler
- 1996-99 Vice president, vehicle certification, compliance and safety affairs, Chrysler Corp./DaimlerChrysler
- 1994-96 General manager, scientific labs and proving grounds, Chrysler Corp.
- 1976-94 Various engineering jobs, Chrysler Corp.
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "I would know something but would not speak up. If I had been more confident in my own beliefs, we may have made better decisions. Being confident is an important attribute. I think women are a little less confident than men. They tend to want all the i's dotted and the t's crossed. They are less apt to take risks than men.
"You need some balance between being careful and taking risks, but I think the fact that women are less willing to take risks could block them from getting ahead."
Proudest achievement: "We have had some difficult product problems the last few years, such as the Firestone tires" on the Explorer SUV. "I was proud that we found it was a tire problem and not the vehicle. I am also proud of our new Crown Vic police interceptor. We are also driving a learning culture throughout the company to not repeat mistakes."
Current challenge: "The No. 1 challenge is product issues, making sure they are developed properly. Working with regulators on safety issues is another big challenge."
On being successful: "Adapt to change, don't take yourself too seriously, listen to and respect people, adhere to your core beliefs and have some balance in your life. I work hard and play hard at the same time."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "We produce a very sophisticated machine. People don't realize how complex it is. If you applied the same model to the computer industry, the vehicles would crash a lot. But we produce a machine that people can operate pretty much worry free."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "Stay away from negative people, be optimistic and don't be afraid of failure."
Job to which you aspire: "I can do a lot in my current job. I want to take the responsibility I have and drive change."
What you do to relax: "I'm a golfer. I also like to travel. I like seeing different cultures, how people live."