Shannon Curry, 39
Treasurer, American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc.
Why did you want to work in the auto industry? I grew up in an automotive town [Anderson, Ind.]. My father worked in the auto industry, and when I was growing up, it was really all that I knew. At that age I'd developed a deep interest in manufacturing.
I had always had an interest in business, and in school, math was something that I was pretty strong in. What interested me in business and economics was the way that companies worked and the global economy -- how decisions are made, why a product is made where and other things like that. One of the things about the auto industry that continues to excite me is the global nature of the industry.
First automotive job: My first auto job was actually when I was a senior in high school. I worked as a co-op in Guide Lamp, a division of General Motors, in 1989 in the engineering test lab in Anderson, Ind.
Proudest professional achievement: The role I played in what our company accomplished in the last year, the overall restructuring the company has gone through over the past three years.
Current challenge at work: I'm really focused on how to run a global treasury operation. I'm focused on establishing operational procedures as we enter new markets like China, India, Thailand, Poland, Brazil and Mexico.
Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for female executives? It's a tough, competitive environment with a high level of intensity and accountability on a daily basis. The industry is global and operates 24/7. The challenge for many women is to balance this with a family life. Achieving the right balance is something that all executives, both women and men, learn to do. Women have many opportunities to progress and excel in this industry.
What you do to relax: Spending time with my family. When I'm not working, I'm usually at some type of game or practice with my sons. I also like reading and walking.
-- Ryan Beene