Susan Desandre, 47
Global Commodity Director, Purchasing, Body and Exterior, Ford Motor Co.
Why did you want to work in the auto industry? I grew up in the Detroit area and was always very curious about the industry that dominated it. I was not raised in an automotive family, and it seemed like a challenge that would be interesting.
First automotive job: In 1985 with Ford. I was an undergraduate packaging engineer with a degree from Michigan State. I was a packaging engineer at Ford's Saline plant responsible for getting product from the manufacturing location to point of assembly in usable condition. I had instrument panels in terminal containers.
Proudest professional achievement: It is the most recent accomplishment: being part of the Ford leadership team in the 2008-09 period, helping us get through the difficult time. The turmoil that existed in the supply base cannot be overestimated. It was difficult and became very emotional, shepherding our folks -- both suppliers and our folks -- through that. We went into that turmoil, emerging with stronger relations with suppliers than before. I'm really proud of that.
Current challenge at work: The globalization of Ford Motor Co. and the role I play in readying the supply base to support the global product plan. It's an enormous challenge, but a fun one.
Dream job: I think I've evolved into my dream job. The Ford Motor Co. today is a different one than it was previously, [in terms of] the product plan, the working together, the general environment. I'm right where I want to be. The challenges with the global environment bring lots of excitement.
There was a time I would have answered differently. At one time I considered starting a company with many of the women friends I made at Ford. We never found the right business opportunity.
What you do to relax: I spend time with family and friends, read and work out to music. I read historical materials and fiction, such as David McCullough novels. The music covers a broad spectrum: alternative and classic rock, modern rock, dance. I tend to be a music person as opposed to movies. I don't watch TV.
-- James B. Treece