Jamie Zinser, 42
Vice president of global engineering, Dura Automotive Systems
Big break: Being promoted to current post in October 2017
Jamie Zinser started her career at Dura Automotive Systems as an intern in 1994.
She hasn’t looked back.
Zinser is now vice president of global engineering at the supplier and a member of its leadership team.
To get there, she built a foundation spanning two decades and multiple roles, including lab work, product design, product engineering, systems engineering, program management and on-site work with a customer, before stepping into executive roles.
“You need that foundation to understand all of the cross-functional aspects of this job,” Zinser said.
“Being a good engineer in itself isn’t going to cut it.”
Zinser, who was named one of Automotive News’ 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry in 2015, is responsible for Dura’s product development in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.
“You have to stay ahead of the OEM’s needs and the consumer’s needs, and be able to predict where the market is moving,” Zinser said.
“The key is to develop a solid product road map.”
Zinser, 42, works closely with the company’s chief technology officer on that road map, which is getting ever larger as lightweighting, electrification and autonomous technology influence vehicle exteriors. The emphasis now, she said, “is understanding where our product offerings need to be in two years, five years or 10 years.
“The key is differentiating yourself, being able to provide something that no one else is doing.”
Zinser was five months pregnant when she was promoted to her current post in October 2017.
“I was a bit terrified taking on such a large role, considering that I was going to have a pretty huge, life-changing moment in the next months ahead,” she said. “But honestly, my boss, [Dura CEO] Lynn Tilton, who’s also a mother herself, believed in me and knew that I could take on both.”
Zinser also credits her friends and family — especially her mom — for support during that time.
“My mother stayed with me for six months after I had my son,” Zinser said. “Nobody wants to admit that they live with their mother, but she was probably the best thing to happen to me.”
— Jack Walsworth