Theodora Casasanta, 44
Director, Proactive Quality Systems, Corporate Quality, Chrysler Group
Education: B.A., material logistics management, Michigan State University; M.B.A., Wayne State University
First automotive job: Shipping supervisor at Chrysler's Sterling Heights, Mich., stamping plant in 1984
Most fun automotive job: "Plant manager at Twinsburg (Ohio) Stamping. It was the first experience at truly running the entire business enterprise."
Career highlights (all with Chrysler)
- 2004 Plant manager, Sterling Heights (Mich.) Assembly
- 2001 Plant manager, Twinsburg (Ohio) Stamping
- 1999 Director, continuous improvement group
Proudest achievement: "My proudest achievement is when it was communicated to me in a particular job I had at Twinsburg stamping that I had I changed literally the life of the people in the facility.
"When I first went to the facility, we were working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Manufacturing can be a very rough business. It is a lot of long hours. One of the things I have been and am still dedicated to do throughout my manufacturing career is to improve the overall life/working environment of manufacturing.
"In this facility we were 24 hours, seven days a week mostly through the fact that we were not as productive as we should have been.
"There was one guy in particular, a production-control guy. I said to him, 'I am dedicated to having you home on Sundays with your family going to church because we could do it if we ran correctly.'
"About a year into that position, I had a Christmas party for my staff. His wife gave me a present. I took it home and opened it up. She said, 'Thank you for changing our lives. My husband enjoys working for you, and it shows at home, too.'
"That is the proudest thing to happen. That I could impact people's lives positively and still create a good working environment."
Current challenge: "Re-honing my skill sets to a completely different avenue of the business."
What you do to relax: "Read. And recently I have taken to collecting antique books. They date back to publication in the early 1900s. And I recently took up piano again. Fine cuisine and dining. I enjoy a good dinner, a nice glass of wine and good company."