Alicia Boler-Davis, 41
North American Vehicle Line Executive, Vehicle Chief Engineer for the Gamma Platform; and Plant Manager, Orion Assembly, General Motors
Why did you want to work in the auto industry? I grew up in the Detroit area, and the auto industry has a huge presence here. And I had a number of family members that worked as UAW members. So when there was an opportunity to work for General Motors, I took advantage of it. I love cars. It was an opportunity to join a big company where I didn't have to come in on Day One and know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, because there were so many options.
First automotive job: Manufacturing engineer in August 1994. I was working with product launches doing tooling for the plant and developing assembly processes. I worked with the W car -- the Pontiac Grand Prix, Oldsmobile Intrigue and Buick Regal.
Proudest professional achievement: Becoming a plant manager at Arlington [Texas]. I set that goal to be a plant manager probably in 1998, and so to see it happen nine years later was a big deal for me. I knew I would get there, but I didn't expect to get there as fast as I did.
Current challenge at work: There's two things that I probably spend most of my time on right now. The first is the overall profitability of the Aveo program that's going to be built here at Orion [Township, Mich.]. We're not looking at taking content out of the vehicle, but we're looking at different ways of doing things. And tied to that, our manufacturing cost per unit is part of the overall profitability. I spend a lot of time on the cultural aspects of Orion. Orion will be different.
Dream job: I'd like to be a senior officer with General Motors and a woman with a lot of influence.
On the support team: My husband works, and he's in sales, so he has some flexibility from a time perspective, and we've been fortunate that he's been able to get transfers as I've been required to move. And then my mom helps out during the week with our boys and has done so since my oldest was born. We've done it without her in Texas -- she came down for a year, and then the second year we were there by ourselves. We have a schedule, and we're very disciplined at following our schedule during the week. Because if you don't have order and discipline, you can forget it.
What you do to relax: I have two boys. They're 8 and 5. So when I really want to completely relax, I spend time with them, playing their games, being outside with them, playing basketball. Also, I love to read. And exercising is relaxing because I can really focus on achieving a personal goal and doing something for me.