Executive Chief Engineer for Electrified Vehicles, General Motors
What attracted you to the auto industry? The adrenaline of being around cars gets you. My dad had a lot of hobbies, like weekend warrior racer. And I was always doing something automotive-related for fun.
First automotive job: I was a co-op student at the Fisher Guide plant in Columbus, Ohio. That plant made hardware, such as door frames. I used a stopwatch to see how long it took to spray paint parts. I was 17.
Big break: Being named the chief engineer for the Chevy Volt propulsion system.
What is the major challenge you've faced in your career? The business of electrification - to make it make sense for customers and the business.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career? My parents. They were always encouraging. The never said, "Girls should not do that," or "That's not something you should be interested in." They let me follow my passion.
What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry? There is a ton of misconception of what we do in the business. I think people would be interested in some "day in the life" stories. My days are incredibly interesting. The subjects I deal with vary widely. Every 30 minutes to an hour you are on to new things that are exciting. We need to do a better job of communicating exactly what we do. In the chief engineer role, each vehicle is a project. You manage the business of it, the design, the development, the content.
Tell us about your family. My husband works at General Motors Milford Proving Ground. He is a director for the vehicle dynamics center, so his team works on all the cool stuff. We find it best to stay away from the work thing in our private lives. But I will ask him for advice at times, because he's got experience in areas I don't. He's very supportive, which is important. He's very busy and I am very busy, so that makes it a challenge to find enough personal time together. My children are grown and out of the house. One's an attorney, one is a college administrator and the other is a biochemist.
What's your favorite weekend activity? We recently moved and we are remodeling our house. We've moved walls.
Are you able to maintain friendships? I think that is essential. There are a lot more friendships I'd like to maintain, but time is limited. There's a few I really cherish and put a lot of effort into.
What's your guilty pleasure? Retail therapy.