Jan Bertsch, 53
Vice President and Treasurer, BorgWarner
Why did you want to work in the auto industry? I grew up in Detroit, was surrounded by the industry, spent weekends at the racetrack and enjoyed being involved in manufacturing a tangible, technically challenging and exciting product. It seemed natural and fun to join the automotive industry after graduation. I chose Ford as my first employer due in part to its well-respected program that allowed its finance people to rotate throughout the company and receive exposure in many cross-functional areas. The program provided many opportunities to enhance financial and treasury skills in addition to focusing on management skills.
First automotive job: Financial analyst with Ford Motor Co. in 1979.
Proudest professional achievement: My biggest work achievement is probably navigating through the bankruptcy of Chrysler, negotiating with the U.S. Department of Treasury, banks, unions and other government offices. And then really managing the cash until the time when the company really resurfaced as a new organization.
Current challenge at work: Much like many in the recovering economic climate, we're continually looking for smarter, more efficient ways to manage the business. In our business it means calculating future demands and calculating the right path to get there. It's what BorgWarner is good at, and it feels good to be part of the team here.
Dream job: Most important to me is enhanced personal growth, the ability to influence the future of the company and the contributions to my employer. I do have aspirations to positions above mine. I may be 53, but I feel much younger. I feel I have many great years ahead of me.
On a surprise: When I was hired by Chrysler in 2001, it was DaimlerChrysler. When I showed up for work the first day, most people were surprised that I was a woman. Because when the request for approval went to the board and the board was in Germany, the name Jan, which is a male name in Germany, appeared on my paperwork. So when I showed up at Chrysler, people thought I was going to be a male. The HR people knew I was female, but certain other people did not. I decided to stay, even though there weren't many females at the time.
What you do to relax: I love chasing my kids around in their sports, which includes time at the ice rink. I have two grown sons and two young, very competitive daughters. One is very competitive in ice dancing, and the other is a pairs figure skater and soccer player and other things. My husband is a part-time engineer and part-time pro stock race car driver. I attempt to make it to the track wherever I can and pitch in on his crew.
-- Bradford Wernle