CEO Column

Celebrating the Women Who Drive Auto Manufacturing Forward

Jennifer Safavian
March 28, 2024

Across the country, women are doing more than just helping build the cars of the future. They’re in leadership roles at manufacturing plants and in other top positions within corporate offices nationwide. They’re leading research and the teams that are developing cutting-edge technology that’s making vehicles safer than ever before. Most importantly, the women of today’s automotive industry are paving the way for a better future—one that inspires other women and girls to pursue the rewarding, high-paying, career-track opportunities the automotive industry offers.

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, there’s no better time to shine a spotlight on just a few of the countless remarkable women that are contributing to the success of the auto industry in the U.S. – starting with 4 women recently recognized by Reuters as trailblazers in the industry:

  • Roxanna Metz started at Honda’s Indiana Auto Plant (IAP) in Greensburg as a Parts Quality Engineer in the Purchasing Division at IAP, but she didn’t stop there. Sixteen years and six promotions later, Roxanna now serves as Honda’s Indiana Auto Plant Lead. Under her leadership, more than 2,700 IAP associates produce the popular Honda Civic Hatchback and CR-V models.
  • Shravanthi Denthumadas doesn’t just help develop emerging technologies for Toyota Connected North America; she leads the teams that have pioneered innovations by harnessing the power of data, AI connectivity, and cutting-edge software. As the Vice President of Engineering, Mobility, and Emerging Technologies, Shravanthi has inspired a collective force of forward thinkers.
  • Claudia Marquez is the Chief Operating Officer for Genesis Motor North America where she has led the strategy and execution of successful marketing and growth strategies in the United States and Canada since 2021. Although impressive in and of itself, Claudia has developed and implemented successful growth strategies for not just one, but three other automotive brands during her 28 years in the automotive industry.
  • As Chief Marketing Officer for Hyundai Motor America, Angela Zepeda is responsible for all of Hyundai Motor America’s marketing and advertising activities in the U.S, including brand development and national and regional advertising. Although this may seem like a daunting role to some, her advice to those aspiring to pursue a career in the automotive industry is to believe in yourself even in times of doubt.

In addition to Reuters’ trailblazers, many other women across the country are working to change the male-dominated perception of the automotive industry and encouraging the next generation of young women and girls to pursue their dreams.

  • Christina Cladera began her career as a cashier for a Mitsubishi dealership in 2003 and worked her way up to Service Director. Still, Christina knew she was capable of more and after taking advantage of Mitsubishi’s career development opportunities, she is now Senior District Parts and Service Manager for Mitsubishi Motors North America. Her advice to other women is to ”be eager to learn, be a team player, and work hard.”
  • Rachel Riegle is the Assistant Manager of Manufacturing Engineering Administration at Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. (SIA). She is the only female management associate within the SIA manufacturing engineering department. During her 10-year career at SIA, one of her most noteworthy achievements was leading a project to update product and equipment ordering systems that directly benefitted all of SIA’s manufacturing engineering sections.
  • Nelly Colón forged her own path to become one of Nissan’s most highly skilled service technicians, representing women in a small group of Nissan Certified Master Technicians in the U.S. She can tear down an engine, rebuild a transmission, troubleshoot electric issues, and even holds specialized certifications in both diesel and electric vehicles. Although female auto technicians remain underrepresented in the industry, Nelly is inspiring and mentoring other women to pursue a career in a typically male-dominated arena.

These are just a few examples of the incredible women that are the heartbeat of our industry. Their passion and commitment are truly inspiring and at Autos Drive America, we will continue to advocate for the women that are laying the foundation for the workforce of the future. As the industry continues to evolve, I hope one thing remains clear: women belong in modern manufacturing.