By Stefan Krestakos
Broad Student Writer
Automotive News recently released its 2015 “100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry” list, featuring seven alumnae of Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business:
- Diane Allen (BA Marketing ’87), senior design manager for Nissan Design America
- Sandra Bouckley (EMBA ’92), vice president of manufacturing engineering for GKN Driveline Americas
- Kim Brycz (BA Materials and Logistics Management – Purchasing Management ’83), executive director of global product purchasing for General Motors
- Wendi Gentry-Stuenkel (EMBA ’12), director of supply chain management commercial operations for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US
- Christine Krathwohl (BA Materials and Logistics Management – Purchasing and Operation Management ’93, EMBA ’02), vice president of global supply chain for Cooper-Standard Holdings
- Grace Lieblein (MBA Operations Management ’87), vice president of global quality for General Motors
- Christine Sitek (BA Materials and Logistics Management – Purchasing Management ’89), executive director of global quality operations for General Motors
What does it take to work one’s way up the ladder to being honored in this way?
Wendi Gentry-Stuenkel began her career at General Motors as a co-op student in a truck assembly plant. She left the industry for another opportunity, but ultimately returned because she missed the complexity that the automotive industry offered. She joined what was then Chrysler, working on material flow optimization and going on to hold a number of positions in supply chain management.
To those pursuing leadership positions in the automotive industry, Gentry-Stuenkel says that you don’t need to be obsessed with cars, but a desire to solve complex problems is critical.
Gentry-Stuenkel said that her Broad education provided her with both the necessary financial and accounting training and the confidence to excel in technical areas. “It provided me with a well-rounded education in leadership, human resources, innovation and strategic planning that equipped me to lead change, and lead people on a global basis,” she said.
Sandra Bouckley leads manufacturing activities and works to establish manufacturing excellence as GKN Driveline’s competitive advantage. She held positions with General Motors, Chrysler, Tyco, and Eaton before joining GKN Driveline. She attributes her success to a conscious pursuit of assignments that would broaden her knowledge and skills.
Having been immersed in the automotive industry for her entire career, Bouckley said that the Broad Executive MBA program was invaluable to her, exposing her to different backgrounds and perspectives. She found that the highly structured program helped to broaden her perspective and gave her an understanding of economic drivers outside the auto industry.
Bouckley says that the industry presents tough and rewarding challenges. She urges young women to reach up to a woman who is already climbing the ladder and ask for mentorship. “We are still working to get a critical mass in the auto industry, but the water is getting warmer,” she notes.
More about the women leading North America’s automotive industry is available at AutoNews.com.