Profiles of honorees

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Bonnie Van Etten

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Vice President – NAFTA/FCA US Chief Accounting Officer, FCA US
Auburn Hills, Mich.

Age: 40

Education: B.S., finance, Anderson University

What attracted you to the auto industry? I wasn't necessarily looking for the auto industry itself. I was just looking for another challenge. I was previously working for American Express, and I was looking for my next move in the Midwest — I'm from Indianapolis so I wanted to get closer to home. This opportunity was just presented to me and some of the things that attracted me to the company were the vision of [Sergio] Marchionne and [Richard] Palmer, where the company had come from and where they had taken it to in a short time. And I do love cars.

First automotive job: In December of 2010 I became director of technical accounting for Chrysler Group.

Big break: This last promotion to be chief accounting officer for the U.S. legal entity and for the NAFTA region.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career? [Ferrari CFO] Alessandro Gili, my former boss here. His pushing and challenging us to achieve things that we may have thought were impossible had a big impact.
What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry? Raising the visibility of women in the industry is always important. Raising the profile of successful women and highlighting how they got there is great. We should mentor other women and encourage those women to join the companies and the teams that we lead.

Tell us about your family. Our daughter was born on May 1 of this year. My husband also works in the auto industry; he works for a small engineering company here in town. We met in Detroit when I moved here. We're both from Indiana; he lived in Indianapolis about the same time I did.

What advice would you give your child? I would tell her to find what you're passionate about and to pursue that. Find your own balance, too. I'm passionate about accounting — most people don't think that should elicit passion, but I really like what I do.

By Nora Naughton

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