Let’s face it, some industries are behind the times. Whether it’s resilience to introducing new technologies, chopping down layers of corporate bureaucracy, or reticence to diversify the workforce, old patterns hardly die young. Even in the past couple of decades, women working in the automobile industry was considered rare or nonexistent. However, things are slowly changing as more auto manufacturers around the world are encouraging upward mobility for females to be placed in important executive roles.
Here are the top 5 women executives in the automotive world right now:
1. Mary Barra
Mary Barra is the current Chairman and CEO of one of the biggest car companies in the world, General Motors. She created history on January 15th, 2014, by succeeding Dan Akerson for the top spot. She is also the first ever female CEO of any major car manufacturing company in the world. She has been working for General Motors for over 38 years now. Previously, she held several executive positions in the company. With a whopping 180,000 employees and annual revenues of over $145B, her hard work and dedication have paid off.
2. Barb J. Samardzich
Barb J. Samardzich is the current vice president and CEO of Ford Motor Company Europe GmbH. She was appointed as head of the European division of Ford on November 1st, 2013. Ms. Samardzich is one of the oldest and most loyal employees of the company. She joined Ford back in 1990 as a product engineer and held positions in quality, and powertrain development until climbing the ranks to more leadership roles at Ford.
3. Linda Hasenfratz
Linda Hasenfratz is a Canadian businesswoman who has been serving as the Chairman and CEO of Linamar—a Canadian automobile car parts manufacturing company. Ms. Hasenfratz started her career as a machine operator at Linamar in 1990. She climbed up the ranks throughout the years and finally ended up at the top. In 2002, she succeeded her father, Frank Hasenfratz, after his retirement, and she has been running the company that her father built from scratch. With nearly 26,000 employees and over $6B in annual revenue, Ms. Hasenfrazt has some tough shoes to fill! But we’re confident this Ernst & Young Ontario Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Manufacturing winner and Entrepreneur of the Year for all of Canada can handle the pressure.
4. Trudy Hardy
Ms. Trudy Hardy is the current Vice President of Marketing at BMW North America. She joined BMW in 2001, and after serving the company for twelve years, she made it to the top in her department. She was promoted to the position of Vice President of Marketing in September 2013, and she has held the position since then.
Ms. Hardy is a marketing veteran with more than 25 years of experience. 15 of those years, she worked with BMW group. She started with the German automakers as the communication manager for their MINI brand and the rest is history now.
5. Elena Ford
Ms. Elena Ford is the Director of Global marketing at Ford Motor Company. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Henry Ford, the man who founded the Ford Motor Company. Previously, she also served as Vice President of the company before grabbing the top spot in the department of global marketing. Ms. Ford is the daughter of Charlotte Ford (the heiress of the Ford Motor Company) and Stavros Niarchos (a billionaire Greek shipping tycoon). Though Ford is one of the largest, most powerful companies in the world, they still have remnants of being a family business.