Tedi Casasanta, 49
Head of Powertrain Quality, Chrysler Group
Why did you want to work in the auto industry? My father and both grandfathers worked in the industry. I witnessed its ups and downs during the time I grew up and also saw the need for radical change to the industry in order to survive during the time I was in college. I wanted to be a part of revolutionizing the industry's future.
First automotive job: Materials supervisor at the Chrysler Sterling Heights assembly plant in 1984.
Proudest professional achievement: My proudest professional achievement was my tenure as a plant manager at the Twinsburg Stamping Plant near Cleveland. There was a perception that it was very old, very radical and a nonconforming plant. I was able in three years to change that plant culturally and made it a profitable location. We used to have morale surveys by location. During my tenure there, the morale improved by 6 percent, whereas the company average was about 2 percent. We launched a great product, and morale improved. That was 2001-2004.
Current challenge at work: My title is head of powertrain quality. I think the greatest challenge there is I am creating a function which was previously nonexistent. I am defining the roles and having to create change in this organization. I think it speaks to the commitment this company has to quality.
Dream job: I suppose I should say I want to be the CEO. I think there are new doors opening every day. I've been fortunate that I've had doors opening my entire career. I've only been in this last position 21/2 months. I was thinking about something on the customer side of the house, which is in an area I haven't been in.
On the men's room: Back in that day [when she started at the Sterling Heights plant] there was nobody to teach you the rules, especially as a young woman. You're 22 and you're giving direction to men, all men that are literally twice your age and twice your size. It's an interesting learning experience.
Being persistent, I often found myself following men into the men's room because they would go into the men's room to get away from me. It was very difficult for women, particularly young, assertive women. Now it's very different, and I'm very glad it's different.
That's why I spend quite a bit of time in supervisory leadership training and mentorship of young women. The Chrysler Women's Forum is dedicated to mentoring for young women coming into the company.
What you do to relax: Eat and exercise. Biking and running. I love to eat.
-- Bradford Wernle