What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first automotive job was a compensation and international mobility lead for Dana. When I joined the company, it was going through bankruptcy and restructuring. The company needed to re-invent itself. Despite the difficult times, I thought it would be a unique opportunity to learn and participate in the re-building of an iconic 100-year-old U.S. automotive company. Looking back on my 10 years with Dana, I am proud to have taken part in the company’s transformation which spanned navigating bankruptcy and the global economic crisis to eventually rebuilding the company and putting it on the path to success.
What was your big break?
Last year, at age 34, I was promoted to senior vice president human resources and head of global HR. Given Dana is a $6 billion, publicly listed global organization with more than 25,000 employees and 100 facilities worldwide, this has been a wonderful opportunity.
Your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement has been identifying and creating organizational capabilities, building sustainable talent and succession management for the business. For instance, together with the division president we built a world-class, culturally diverse, high-performance leadership team. This 13-person team included nine nationalities and 85 percent of its members had prior intercontinental experience. Within the last year, half of the team has been promoted, and three of its members now report directly to the CEO. Of the vacant positions, all but one was filled via the pre-developed succession plan. All these changes took place during a significant M&A project and the team did not miss a beat.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
One of the greatest challenges a woman executive faces is striking the right balance between work, personal and family life, and health. I love what I do so it’s easy to take on more responsibility and give more to the business side of life. Even so, the best decisions are taken from a position of inner balance. This balance is critical, as are the personal relationships that bring perspective and objectivity into our lives. If you fail to foster the right balance, it can lead to significant personal and professional disappointments. I am happy to have learned this critical lesson early on.
What is your current challenge at work?
My daily challenge is consistent with that faced by many other automotive companies: electrification and digitalization. Both have a big effect on the products we build and sell. They also fundamentally affect the talent we wish to attract, develop and retain as we seek to build world-leading organizations.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
The speed of the changes imposed on the automotive industry never fails to surprise me. The industry has been dealing with changes for decades. From lean manufacturing to managing complex supply chains. Now, we must reinvent ourselves in the face of rapidly encroaching paradigm shifts including mobility, electrification, autonomous driving, connectivity, robotics and 3-D printing. I believe the industry’s real asset is its workforce. It has been quite adaptable to change and that valuable capability will be in high demand in the future.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Over the years, I have been fortunate to receive good advice from wise mentors. This includes: Be confident in your own abilities and don’t take yourself too seriously and surround yourself with the best people possible, preferably those who are more capable. Learning and succeeding in a team is more rewarding than individual success. You learn more and have more fun along the way.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
As the world shifts from the legacy definition of “automobile” to the broader meaning of “mobility,” the automotive industry is entering a period of exciting transformation. This dynamic will create enticing opportunities in the years to come, making now an excellent time to join. To take advantage of these opportunities, aspiring applicants should be comfortable managing significant ambiguity and change in a fast-paced, complex, multi-cultural and multi-generational environment.
If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
It’s key for any leader to first articulate a clear and simple mission that is sensible and visceral to the entire team. Based on this, a great CEO must then drive engagement and passion, turning words and concepts into demonstrable, exceptional performance.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I love my current role leading HR for a global company. In the future, as technology and digitalization change the industry and how people work, I look forward to leading the human aspect of this transformation.
What do you do to relax?
During my leisure time I enjoy anything that gets me closer to nature or allows me to discover new countries and cultures. Put me on a mountain with a pair of skis, on a horse or in a pair of hiking boots and I’m happy.
What is your pet peeve?
I’m usually an easy-going person and like to focus on what is truly important rather than getting distracted by inconsequential irritations. That said, I don’t like disingenuous, manipulative or self-serving people.
What was your first car?
A used Saturn S-Series that I picked up for the bargain price of $500. For a student who had just immigrated to the U.S. it felt like a Porsche.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would probably want to be a mix between a Tesla Model S P90D and a 1947 Pininfarina Cisitalia.
2016-present:Senior vice president, global human resources, Dana, Maumee, Ohio, USA and Cham, Switzerland
2015-2016: Senior HR director, off-highway business unit and Europe,
2013-2015: HR director, off-highway business unit, Dana, Cham
2012-2013: Senior HR manager, Europe,Dana, Cham
2010-2012: HR manager, global sales & purchasing, Dana, Maumee, Ohio
2007-2010: Global compensation specialist and global mobility lead, Dana, Maumee, Ohio
2006-2007: Compensation & benefits, SAP, New Town Square, Pennsylvania, USA