Cindy Niekamp, 51
Senior Vice President, Automotive Coatings, PPG Industries
Why did you want to work in the auto industry? I had no vision as I grew up in Dayton [Ohio]. My mom was a teacher, my dad a lawyer. Dayton was a GM town. After my freshman year as an engineering student at Purdue, I had two offers for an internship. Dad said, "Follow your heart." I took the job at Delco Moraine, a GM subsidiary.
First automotive job: Production supervisor on a torque-converter clutch assembly line in 1981 for Delco Moraine in Fredericksburg, Va.
Proudest professional achievement: Helping get a nonautomotive merger to work when I was at Mead.
Current challenge at work: Getting through this crisis, restructuring the business, bringing us together and doing well.
Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for a female executive? It's a difficult environment for everybody -- and, yes, women, too. A lot of industries are easier. I really wish I could look my two daughters in the eye and say, "This is the right industry for you."
What you do to relax: Not enough. I like to take three-mile walks. I love to travel, especially with my daughters. I become a kid again.
-- Jesse Snyder