Desi Ujkashevic, 43
Director, Global Design Technical Operations, Ford Motor Co.
Why did you want to work in the auto industry? I was most interested in technology and my ability to employ technology in a way to really impact consumers. Way back when I was deciding automotive, one of the drivers for me was very specifically around safety and innovation. At that time, Ford was really seen as a safety and innovation leader.
So that was the biggest attraction. And I loved cars. I was a car nut. My first car I rebuilt with my dad. When I turned 16, my dad got me a used Camaro. That was my first knowledge of Bondo and how to do a prepaint job. My dad worked in the auto industry. I spent most of my life in Detroit.
First automotive job: I started with Ford in 1991 in the Ford college graduate program. I worked in engine testing.
Proudest professional achievement: Launching a global group, which I've done over the last 18 months. Bringing together a global operations group, inclusive of redefining processes and merging cultures, is quite challenging but also very rewarding.
Current challenge at work: Managing globally. I'm in a position where nobody ever sleeps. Just figuring out how to do that and continue to have good transparency across functions and encourage people and, really, it's the culture piece that I talked about being the best accomplishment but also the biggest challenge. How do we bridge the cultures? One of the biggest opportunities or challenges for me is to understand how those regional differences translate into the product. There are common threads, but we also have to be sensitive to the regional differences.
Dream job: My dream job at Ford is to be the vice president of engineering. It's the job where I think I can make the biggest impact.
On having it all: I'm pretty active in the Ford women network groups. People sometimes think you can't have kids and be at Ford. I like to help discourage these thoughts [that] you can't do both. You can, but you have to set up your infrastructure to support it.
What you do to relax: I love to swim, and I like to swim anywhere. I love the outdoors, to be on the seaside or in my pool. I don't see too much of it, but that's my dream. I love to spend time with my family. My kids are the other part of my life, and they're real important to me. I have four kids. You have to have a great support system. My husband is wonderful. He's a real big enabler to my career.
-- Amy Wilson