Susan Kampe, 47
Vice President and General Manager, Global Information Technology, Automotive Group, Johnson Controls Inc.
Education: B.S., business administration, Bowling Green State University; M.B.A., Bowling Green State University
What your college professors didn't teach you: "I graduated in 1980, and at that time professors were not teaching much about globalization or global business. Yet I have always worked for companies that had global operations. I've had to learn that on the job."
First automotive job: Manufacturing systems consultant to ITT Higbie, a division of ITT Automotive, in 1985
- 2000-01 Director, information technology strategy and deployment, Ford Motor Co.
- 2000 CEO, Fleetscape.com (ArvinMeritor/Accel Partners venture), Boston
- 1996-2000 Senior vice president and chief information officer, Rockwell Automotive Inc./Meritor Automotive Inc./ArvinMeritor Inc., Troy, Mich.
- 1994-96 Director, global information systems and services, AlliedSignal Automotive, Southfield, Mich.
- 1985-94 Manager, North American manufacturing systems, ITT Automotive, Auburn Hills, Mich.
Most fun automotive job: "I did a dot-com startup for ArvinMeritor. It was my first experience at planning a new business. How are we going to make money? What should the pricing be?
"We never actually launched the new venture. There was a customer conflict that stopped it. But it was a great learning experience that lasted a year.
"I went from having a limo take me to the airport to turning over a trash can and rigging a phone on top of it to have a conference call meeting. That was fun. It was not the pinnacle of my career, but it was a nice diversion."
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "I take chances. I am not careless, but I take chances. Most of the time they pay off.
"One time I took a job for the wrong reasons. I took a job on the basis of compensation, public perception and title. I didn't really research the environment I would be working in and what I would be doing. So I really did not fit in.
"My lesson learned is know your strengths and what you enjoy about a job. Learn the culture of a company and make sure it is a good fit before you go switching jobs."
Proudest achievement: "My three children. I can't think of anything better than that to leave a legacy. They are awesome."
Current challenge: "The current challenge is one we all face - continue to improve in a tough economic environment. I don't think it has ever been this tough."
On being successful: "'Success' is a funny word. A business measures it with results. I measure it through the people I work with on the team. Their success is my success."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "How resilient people are who work in this industry. They keep going. They keep plunging ahead. People complain about this industry, but they don't leave. That's because it's still fun. Cars are exciting."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "Learn how to be competitive. It's a given that you have to be competent, that you have to be able to learn and that you have to get results. But a lot of people can do that. How can you distinguish yourself?
"You are always on a competitive playing field. You can't let your gender interfere with competing. Don't use it as an excuse for failure, and don't put it in the way."
Job to which you aspire: "None. I don't come to work aspiring for the next job. I come to work aspiring to be successful in the job I have. Everything else will take care of itself."
What you do to relax: "I practice Ashtanga yoga. It's called hot yoga because they turn the temperature up to 100 degrees, even in the summer. I go four times a week for 90 minutes."