Ford is Where the Family is for Mustang Chief Program Engineer

May 12, 2023
transou family Click to Enlarge

The family nature of Ford’s culture is one of the things that drew Mustang Chief Program Engineer Laurie Transou to the company after college. A second-generation employee, she has personified that and then some: Transou’s entire immediate family also works at Ford in various areas of the business.  And her family’s lineage can also be traced back to Mustang through her father, Hank Lenox, who was responsible for the Mustang Boss 429 engine.

Transou’s husband, Rob, is a director in Supply Chain. Her oldest son also works in Supply Chain as an EV battery buyer, her daughter is in Ford Customer Service Division Finance, and another son works in Manufacturing Planning and Logistics. Her youngest son has returned for a second internship this summer, this time in computer science engineering.

“I’m incredibly proud that we’re all here, and it makes me happy because I’ve grown up in and around Ford, and we’re all passionate about the products and doing great things here,” said Transou, whose father-in-law worked at Ford and whose brother and brother-in-law currently work at Ford. “It’s fun to talk: It’s like our own mini focus group. … And you couple that with my dad and my father-in-law, who were both at Ford, and my brother and brother-in-law are also at Ford. We’re a huge Ford family.”

Lenox’s career path influenced Transou’s. She remembers him bringing home concepts and other vehicles from time to time. He was also involved in the Mustang Cobra Jet and Super Cobra Jet programs.

I grew up around Ford Motor Company and watching my dad and how his career evolved. He would bring home all kinds of really cool cars.
Laurie Transou, Mustang Chief Program Engineer
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One of her father’s early rotations involved working with Ford racing. He took Laurie and her siblings to races at Michigan International Speedway, where they would get to go into the pits to meet the drivers.

Transou’s personal connection to Mustang also runs deep. At 16, she learned how to drive a manual transmission Mustang GT and later purchased her own 1991 Mustang GT as her first vehicle after college. She quickly came to appreciate the car’s performance and unique exhaust note. Transou also still remembers taking a test-drive.

“The 5.0-liter exhaust was so perfect, and I was just smiling from ear to ear,” she said. “It’s so distinctive and so uniquely Mustang. I can have my eyes closed, and I can just tell it’s a Mustang.”

Explorer internship seals the deal

Transou held several internships at Ford and worked as a Ford College Graduate, a program which provides a variety of rotational job assignments for recent college graduates during their first years with the company, after earning undergraduate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan. But it was one particular internship that tipped the scales in her job search.

Transou was invited to support a pre-production build at the Louisville, Kentucky, plant prior to the launch of the then-all-new Ford Explorer. She still remembers the product code of that fateful project: UN46. The SUV was replacing the Bronco II and would go on to become an iconic SUV. At 20 years old, she remembers being nervous and excited as she told her parents about her first business trip to join the team for a prototype build for a program that was still two years from launch.

“I realized the impact of what we were doing in that moment,” she said. “We had the opportunity to think deeply about our customers and how we might deliver a product that they can’t live without.”

She knew this was what she wanted to do.

“It was so exciting,” she said. “That was the tipping point for me. That’s when I knew I wanted to be in the auto industry, and I love Ford. I’ve bled Ford Blue since the time I was born.”

Transou went on to work in Truck Operations Product Development, holding various roles in engineering, vehicle integration, planning and strategy on products, including the first-generation Ford Expedition, F-250 and Ranger.

Coming back to Ford

While Transou has been with Ford for more than 30 years, she stepped away from her career for about eight years to raise her family. She returned to Ford in 2007.

“Once (my children) went off to school, I came back to work,” she said. “It was great. We’re lucky at Ford to have the opportunity to take time off to prioritize family and then come back and still develop and grow a career. It’s unique to Ford, and it’s one of the things Ford does really well.”

Upon her return, Transou worked in Powertrain and Vehicle Quality, where she helped launch the first Auto Start-Stop Technology in the Ford Fusion. More recently she has taken on several roles in planning and strategy, including powertrain strategy for internal combustion and EV products, Lincoln internal combustion and EV planning, and future strategy and planning for iconic products such as Mustang and Bronco.

Transou was named Ford Mustang chief program engineer in January and is now responsible for leading all aspects of the all-new seventh-generation 2024 Ford Mustang and future Mustang products. Her recent roles in planning and strategy are helping her to bring a vision for growing the Mustang brand.

It’s an unbelievable honor to be in this role. I feel so lucky and thankful. The team working on this product is amazing. … The thing I love about the Mustang team is that I see this pride and passion everywhere I go. They’re passionate about Ford and Mustang, and they take pride in building this iconic product.
Laurie Transou, Mustang Chief Program Engineer
mustang Click to Enlarge

Once in the new role, Transou took time to listen to and learn about her new team.

“I’ve grown up around Mustang so the product I already knew,” she said. “But I needed to meet the people so I could understand where they might be struggling and thinking about where, as a leader, I could help progress the team forward.”

Looking ahead to the future of Mustang

While the all-new 2024 Ford Mustang has edgy, new styling, as well as a digitally immersive, jet fighter-inspired cockpit and display — and features like Drift Brake and Remote Rev — it still pays homage to the original in areas like its silhouette and essence, while “pushing the needle into the future,” Transou said.

“It’s this combination of the legacy and history of the Mustang, coupled with technology and experiences that stretches into the future that we think will be appealing to the next generation of enthusiasts as we bring them into the Mustang family,” she said.

The new seventh-generation model is still oozing with customizability like its predecessors, taking personalization digital with a cluster display. One of the theme options is the same as the Fox Body-era Mustang that Transou and many other Mustang enthusiasts fell in love with. She still loves to put down the convertible top and drive away in a manual transmission Mustang after a busy day.

“Other vehicles take you to the experience; Mustang is the experience,” she said. “It’s fun to just get in and drive.”