Profiles of honorees

Profiles by name

    • Olga Alavanou
    • Diane Allen
    • Lisa Bahash
    • Rebecca Vest
    • Chris Barman
    • Janet Barnard
    • Mary Barra
    • Birgit Behrendt
    • Becky Blanchard
    • Alicia Boler-Davis
    • Sandra Bouckley
    • Kim Brink
    • Kim Brycz
    • Robin Chase
    • Catherine Clegg
    • Francoise Colpron
    • Lisa Copeland
    • Dianne Craig
    • Leah Curry
    • Kathleen Dilworth
    • Tracey Doi
    • Thasunda Duckett
    • Helen Emsley
    • Cindy Estrada
    • Joy Falotico
    • Felicia Fields
    • Marcy Fisher Clifford
    • Pamela Fletcher
    • Elena Ford
    • Cherlyn Foster
    • Lisa Frary
    • Julie Fream
    • Elizabeth Griffith
    • Jan Griffiths
    • Mary Gustanski
    • Corey Haire
    • Colleen Haley
    • Jeneanne Hanley
    • Lara Harrington
    • Linda Hasenfratz
    • Pam Heminger
    • Sheri Hickok
    • Marissa Hunter
    • Sharon Kitzman
    • Marcy Klevorn
    • Darlene Knight
    • Christine Krathwohl
    • Staci Kroon
    • Julie Kurcz
    • Chantel Lenard
    • Michele Lieber
    • Grace Lieblein
    • Margie Loeb
    • Lisa Lunsford
    • Alexandria Maciag
    • Janice Maiden
    • Millie Marshall
    • Julie Martin
    • Kim McCullough
    • Doneen McDowell
    • Karen McKemie
    • Susan Moll
    • Barbara Mousigian
    • Terri Mulcahey
    • Pam Nicholson
    • Cindy Niekamp
    • Andrica Nuechterlein
    • Seval Oz
    • Donna Parlapiano
    • Barbara Pilarski
    • Kimberly Pittel
    • Tania Pratnicki Young
    • Michelle Primm
    • Teri Quigley
    • Sonia Rief
    • Andrea Riley
    • Victoria Rusnak
    • Rose Ryntz
    • Cheryl Miller
    • Marsha Shields
    • Christine Sitek
    • Alison Spitzer
    • Maximiliane Straub
    • Kristen Tabar
    • Diana Tremblay
    • Carrie Uhl
    • Desi Ujkashevic
    • Bonnie Van Etten
    • Alexi Venneri
    • Marlo Vitous
    • Valery Voyles
    • Kim Williams
    • Marsha Winegarden
    • Kathy Winter
    • Lori Wittman
    • MaryAnn Wright
    • Minjuan Zhang
    • Jamie Zinser
collapse
Exclusive Lead Sponsor

Robin Chase

Veniam

Comment on this article 
Print this article Print
Reprint Reprints
Send a letter Respond
Email Article
Share on Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
Share on Twitter
Chairman, Veniam
Boston
Age: 56
Education: B.A., English, French and philosophy, Wellesley College; MBA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management

What attracted you to the auto industry? It was an important part of my life that I felt could stand improvement. Transportation was a key piece of quality of life and I was dissatisfied with the status quo. I also saw that's where the opportunity was. When my co-founder presented the idea of Zipcar to me, I saw that this is what the Internet was made for and it was what I personally wanted. I wanted to have a car once in a while, but I didn't want to own one.

First automotive job: CEO of Zipcar in 2000

Big break: My co-founder saw the idea of car sharing in Europe and talked to me about that idea and bringing it to the U.S. It was out of the blue, a lucky thing and when I heard it I thought, "Wow, this is the time in life and my big personal moment."

Our kindergartners were best friends at the time. She's German and went home to Germany for a vacation and saw a car-sharing company car while sitting in a cafe and thought that was a cool idea. Car sharing in Europe had been around since the mid-1980s. Zipcar built the technology and used it in a novel way and rebranded it.

What is the major challenge you've faced in your career? I would say financing three startups is a major challenge.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career? My husband. When Zipcar was a startup, he supported me and the family during that whole first year. Then he became chief technology officer of the company and built that technology.

As I've continued to move on through my life, he has been an enabler and champion at every moment. I've talked to many other wives and their husbands are not. I couldn't have raised three great children and supported us through all this without him. And he had the technology skills when I needed them.

What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry? What I'm struck by is that transportation is the glue of our lives. It's what makes you able to have an education, work, see your friends. I try to encourage women to recognize that it's front and center. You should care about education, schools, poverty and whatever else you care about but remember that transportation is an enabler.

Tell us about your family. I have three children that are now 22, 25 and 28. They are fantastic, well-adjusted delightful young adults. Only one has a driver's license. My youngest daughter is promising herself she'll get her learner's permit in the next month. They all live in cities. If you Google my daughter Cameron Russell, you'll see she's as famous as I am. I have a dog that I consider my foster grandpuppy.

What's your favorite weekend activity? Spending time with my family either walking around or enjoying a dinner.

What keeps you up at night? Climate change. I'm deeply concerned we won't reduce emissions in time to prevent catastrophe. Every company that I have founded has provided a pathway to reduce CO2 emissions. I just wrote a book, Peers Inc. It talks about this economic shift that's under way that is transforming how we build businesses and how we work. Companies such as Zipcar and Uber are examples of that shift.

Name one thing about yourself that most people don't know. I'm an excellent knitter. I'm very good with colors, so I make sweaters from scratch and they are well-loved by the people I give them to.

Name one talent you wish you had. Some days I wish I had been an engineer because I'd like to have a deeper understanding of what's going on, specifically a network engineer who understands wireless.

What advice would you give your child? To be a person who is a continuous lifelong learner. That's what makes for great employees and makes for a successful human.

By Jamie LaReau

Automotive News Home

THE WAY FORWARD

'Leading Women' discuss family, flexibility and forging ahead

Four Automotive News 'Leading Women' reflect on the people, places and things that continue to inspire them at work and home.