Chris Barman, 38
Vehicle Line Executive, E Segment Vehicles, Chrysler Group
Why did you want to work in the auto industry? When I first started at Purdue and went into mechanical engineering, I was good at math and science. I thought I was going to become a pediatrician. Through my summer internship at GM, I realized I liked this car thing.
During my junior year I did a summer internship at Chrysler, and I worked on the Viper program. If that doesn't convince you to be interested, I don't know what will.
First automotive job: I was an intern with General Motors in the summer of 1991. I worked at Inland Fisher Guide in Anderson, Ind.
Proudest professional achievement: I was one of the first who worked on the knowledge transfer [from Mercedes-Benz] of the electronic stability program, and I stuck with that on the first implementation on vehicles like the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Magnum. It saved lives.
Current challenge at work: I'm responsible for 300, Charger and Challenger rear-drive platforms. We're continuing to improve our quality on those vehicles as well as working with the team on the new products.
Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for female executives? It is a predominantly male industry, especially on the engineering side. That said, I've never had anything held against me for being a female. I look at the talent in the room, not the sex or the race of the people. I have worked on programs where I was the only female. I worked six months on the Mercedes chassis control team. There were two women in a group of about 200.
What you do to relax: Growing up in Indiana, I played basketball. I continue to play basketball recreationally. I like spending time with my family and doing home-improvement projects.
-- Bradford Wernle