Linda Cash, 48
Director, North America Vehicle Operations Manufacturing Engineering, Ford Motor Co.
Why did you want to work in the auto industry? I didn't. I decided to come to Ford because the job description was very good and it allowed me to live in Atlanta, where I was from. So I didn't have a desire to get into the auto industry, but I did want to get with a really good company that would allow me to do what I trained to do.
First automotive job: I was an industrial engineer at the Atlanta Assembly Plant. I started in 1984.
Proudest professional achievement: I've been able to create some very successful and cohesive teams.
Current challenge at work: Launch is always the greatest challenge. It is a very intensive period where we have to deliver a lot of things and deliver it on time. My team is away from their families for long periods of time.
Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for female executives? There are so many men in the business that you already come in with a bias thinking it's a man's world.
It's hard to stay balanced. Women are usually the caregivers. We're the ones who cook dinner, keep up the house, take the kids to school, take the dog to the vet and nurture everyone. But the hours in the auto industry are the problem we run into.
We start building cars at 6 a.m. You want to see your kids off to school. So we women have to get things ready the night before, and your spouse sees the kids off to school.
What you do to relax: I have my face in a book a lot. I go to a lot of jazz concerts. I sing in a choir. I play piano.
-- Jamie LaReau