Original Equipment Suppliers Association
What attracted you to the auto industry? I grew up in Dearborn so I was familiar with the auto industry, and the opportunity that was presented to me upon graduation with my engineering degree was to work at General Motors. I was attracted to the manufacturing development work that was involved.
First automotive job: In 1983 I was a manufacturing engineer for GM at the Warren Tech Center.
Big break: In 1985, getting a General Motors fellowship to go to grad school.
Having grown up and gone to school in Michigan, my world was relatively insular. Experiencing the diversity of people and experiences that were available at Harvard opened my eyes to see the world from a broader perspective.
What is the major challenge you've faced in your career? One of the challenges has been maintaining a healthy balance between the demands of work and the demands of a personal life such as a family and the other things also committed to. It takes a lot of conscious effort and work.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career? My husband. He's enabled me to do and be the different things I've done and been. Whether it's my need to travel a tremendous amount in some of my roles or work really long hours, from a standpoint of who's really supported and influenced the career that I've had, it's been him.
What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry? Make sure that everyone, not just women, understands the breadth of roles that exist within this industry and the different types of functions, education and experiences that are available. Whether you want a marketing role, a communication role, engineering, all of that is available to you and it's changing rapidly as more and more technology comes into this space.
Tell us about your family. My husband and I have been married 20 years, and I have two amazing kids. My daughter, Jillian, is 18 and she's a high school senior so we're in the college search process. I have a son, Ryan, who is 16. He's a junior, so we're headed toward an empty nest. We've traveled a tremendous amount together. We've been to China, Australia, Europe a number of times and Mexico.
What's your favorite weekend activity? I like to read. I tend to try to spend some time being quiet. This job is very demanding in terms of being out there with the public. So on my own time, I just want a little quiet time.
Name one thing about yourself that most people don't know. I've been a musician all my life. It hasn't been something I've been able to do as much of as I'd like during my working years, but I play piano; flute and saxophone when I was younger. I really do enjoy it.
By Jamie LaReau