The 5 Most Influential Women in the Automotive Industry
We celebrate Women's History Month by highlighting influential women in the auto industry, like Linda Hasenfratz of Linamar Corporation.
From the factory to the boardroom, women have had quite the impact on the automotive industry. In an industry that was once completely dominated by men, a select few women have cracked through the glass ceiling. Women from all across the world have made their way into vital roles in some of the most respected automotive companies in the world.
For Women's History Month, take a look at five highly influential women in the automotive industry today:
1. Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors
As the first female CEO of a Big 8 automaker, Barra has made quite the splash. Prior to her current position, Barra served as Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing & Supply Chain, and as Senior Vice President, Global Product Development. In these roles, she was responsible for the design, engineering, program management and quality of GM vehicles around the world.
2. Linda Hasenfratz, CEO of Linamar Corporation
She worked her way up from Machine Operator all the way to General Manager of the company's Vehcom Manufacturing and Comtech Manufacturing Ltd. Divisions before becoming President and then, eventually, CEO. She was awarded the Ernst & Young Ontario Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Manufacturing in October 2014. Less than a month later she was chosen as the Entrepreneur of the Year for all of Canada. The manufacturing company creates precision products that provide the light vehicle, commercial truck, off-highway, energy and industrial OEM markets with powertrain system solutions.
3. Barb Samardzich, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Ford of Europe
Samardzich first served as chief engineer for F-Series Super Duty commercial trucks and as quality director for Ford-brand products in Ford of Europe. She held a variety of positions in Powertrain Engineering, including chief engineer for Ford’s Automatic Transmission Operations. There, she won the Women in Engineering Achievement Award from Design News in 2004. She eventually worked her way up to vice president, Product Development, Ford of Europe, and then to her current role.
4. Grace Lieblein, General Motors Vice President of Global Quality
Lieblein began her GM career as a co-op student at General Motors Assembly Division in Los Angeles. She worked her way through the ranks, gaining respect and credibility along the way. During her journey she was president and managing director of GM Mexico – the first woman to serve in this role. She is currently on the Board of Directors for the GM Foundation.
5. Julie Hamp, Chief Communications Officer of Toyota
Hamp is currently responsible for marketing, product and brand communications for the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands, as well as corporate reputation, stakeholder engagement, investor relations and sales communications, manufacturing communications and corporate advertising. Prior to her current role, she worked as the senior vice president, communications and consumer relations for PepsiCo and the vice president, communications for General Motors’ European region in Zurich.