Donna Parlapiano, 45
Senior Vice President, Industry Relations and Regional Operations, AutoNation Inc.
Why did you want to work in the auto industry? I started with Ford Motor Co. They interviewed on campus. I had an offer from a pharmaceutical company. My father said, "You should work for Ford because Henry Ford gave the common man the opportunity of a lifetime." So that was really it -- because of Ford and the history of our country. My father is an engineer and historian.
First automotive job: Ford customer relations analyst in Denver in 1986.
Proudest professional achievement: To be able to fully participate in this industry as a woman is something I'm very grateful for and also proud of. My sister often says to me, "Do you ever think about the fact that you're the only woman in the meetings?" And I don't. Gender doesn't become an issue. I've been really fortunate with both Ford and AutoNation.
It's being able to garner the respect where I can contribute. With AutoNation, when we're meeting with Mike Maroone and Mike Jackson -- that they listen.
Current challenge at work: Trying to find the right balance with manufacturers. We have to hit certain efficiency and market share numbers. Our greatest challenge today is to meet the manufacturers' objectives in all ways -- in efficiency and customer satisfaction and also maintain the correct balance of profitability and successfully operating the dealerships.
Dream job: It's the job I'm in right now. I'm in a position where I can work with the large manufacturing companies that really drive so much of our economy, so I get exposed to phenomenal businesspeople, and I love that, learning from them. And I'm in such a great environment with AutoNation. I don't have this ambition to be the CEO. I want to have the right balance in my life.
What you do to relax: I love to run and ski. I love being outside. I have a wonderful man in my life. We travel a lot. My two sisters are my best friends in the world. I have five nieces and nephews and love spending time with them.
-- Amy Wilson