Our People | May 25 2021

Nine Stellantis executives share career insights in ‘The Road Forward’

Nine Stellantis executives are featured in a new book titled “The Road Forward: More Conversations with Top Women in Automotive,” published by SAE International in collaboration with the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Inforum, a women’s leadership organization headquartered in Detroit.

It is a follow-up to the 2019 book “The Road to the Top is Not on the Map: Conversations with Top Women of the Automotive Industry,” which was a best seller for SAE.

Each of the nine Stellantis leaders shared their thoughts about the most profound impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the way they think about their job, company and family life.

Here is a preview of what the book has to offer:

“The crisis also serves as an accelerator for Stellantis’s transformation from a traditional full-line automaker to a customer-centric mobility company. We have established a digital steering committee that meets on a weekly basis that has made several pivotal decisions to make the customer and employee digital experiences more immersive and engaging. Each of the business leaders also sponsored building roadmaps, including key performance  indicators (KPIs) to build the customer-centricity DNA within our company.”

Mamatha Chamarthi, Software Business and Product Management – Americas and Asia Pacific

“To maintain continuous contact with my team members, I schedule weekly one-on-one and staff meetings. During these meetings, I encourage the team to use the video feature, and we make time for non-work-related small talk and sometimes even engage in a virtual game to get to know each other better. And while I know it may not be popular, I attend all meetings with my camera on; this simple action allows me to connect with others whose cameras are on and looking to establish this connection.”

Lottie Holland, Director, Diversity, Inclusion, Engagement & EEO Compliance – North America

“Surprisingly, I am growing my professional network while working remotely. I have always been just too busy to spend time on social media. However, with the pandemic, I have taken the time to reach out a bit more on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Although the former is a social site and the latter a business site, they both serve to make connections. I have always believed that if you make enough connections, and are sincere and open with your communication, eventually something serendipitous happens. I have connected with high school friends, college friends, colleagues, and retirees, all of whom I know I can call on, and they know they can call on me.”

Elizabeth Krear, Deputy Program Director, Jeep® Grand Wagoneer and Electrified Body on Frame

“To regain balance, I started adding evening blocks to my calendar to exercise and spend time with my family. After a few weeks of this new pattern, others adapted around the time blocks. I encouraged those on my team to create their own boundaries. Children or no children, married or single, each person needs their own balance.”

Jessica Lafond, Head of North America Technical Center

“I don’t think everything will return to the status quo. I think the negative stigma associated with working from home will be reduced as it is evident how much was accomplished with most of the workforce virtual. I also think there will be much more use of technology going forward, which will decrease travel and enable a more flexible workday.”

Lisa Lortie, Director, Global Propulsion Systems Testing and Analysis 

“Personally, I used this opportunity to reinforce the importance of health with my team. We need to give attention to the critical actions that protect our health, such as regular exercise, sleep, and healthy eating. The stresses and pressures of work can tempt us to often forego these strategies and that can have a major impact on our well-being. When we as leaders communicate that it’s okay and, in fact, are doing what’s needed to protect our own health, it takes away those excuses—the guilt—that people might feel when putting their well-being first. During the summer, even while remote, we arranged “walking” meetings to ensure people were moving during the day.” 

Amy McLain, Director, Process and Methods, Global Purchasing & Supply Chain

“Remote work did not create an impediment for my Business Development team; it was actually an enabler for us. We ended up closing more deals during the pandemic than we did during all of 2019. Second, I learned that while some people thrive in a remote work setting, others do not. For those who struggled due to a lack of structure, difficulty balancing work and home responsibilities, or other reasons, they needed special support and assistance to help them succeed, which I tried my best to provide.”

Barbara Pilarski, Global Business Development

“For virtual meetings, I make sure to turn my camera on, even if others choose not to, as I think seeing faces fosters more interaction between people. Another change is scheduling regular meetings and touch points. I made a significant effort not to cancel or reschedule staff or one-to-one meetings. I also changed the way I approached meetings to allow for time to just chat. You can get a real sense of how people are doing this way.”

Bonnie Van Etten, Group Chief Accounting Officer

“Technology has truly been an enabler here. While I certainly miss seeing everyone face to face, I purposefully find ways to connect on a personal level. For example, a simple, private text message to a colleague to say hello and ask how they are doing helps keep our connection. And, while we encourage our team members to turn on their video during meetings to “see” each other, I am flexible and using other more traditional technologies, like a text message or phone call, to ensure we are keeping an open line of communication.”

Marlo Vitous, Global Supply and Supply Chain Management – North America

To watch a video from the book launch event this past week featuring Carla Bailo, CEO of the Center for Automotive Research; Terry Barclay, CEO of Inforum; Sue Bai, Honda Research Institute; Donna Bell, Ford Motor Co.; Mamatha Chamarthi, Stellantis; Darci Marcum, General Motors Co.; and Kristen Tabar, Toyota, click here

The book features more than 70 of the most influential women in the automotive industry. To pick up a copy, visit www.sae.org.