Women Making a Difference at Ford

Mar 08, 2024

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), an important time during Women’s History Month to recognize and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women and a reminder of the importance of allyship and inclusion.  

At Ford, our very own “Car Girls” are leading vehicle programs for some of our most iconic products – the Ford Mustang, the Mustang Mach-E and the Explorer, leaving an indelible mark on the world of automobiles, while uplifting and empowering women and girls everywhere. 

Laurie Transou, Donna Dickson and Kelley Clark have each spent 30 years or more with the company, paying their dues and advancing their careers. The road hasn’t always been smooth, but they continue to drive forward at full speed, shaping the automotive landscape for both Ford and the auto industry. 

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Laurie Transou, chief program engineer, Ford Mustang 
“There have been many times in my career when I’ve felt invisible, as if those in the room didn’t hear my voice at all. But these challenges have built inner strength, confidence and a passion to evolve our culture for the better,” said Transou, describing some of the obstacles she’s faced during her 30-year career. 

“It is refreshing to see Ford prioritizing inclusivity, encouraging employees to embrace its principles and celebrating those who demonstrate these behaviors,” she said. “Everyone wants to feel like they are part of the team, that their voice is heard and that they are providing value. And when everyone on the team feels this way, there is nothing more powerful and motivating.”

Transou – who has held a variety of roles in engineering, vehicle integration and product planning and strategy before taking on her current role as chief program engineer for the Ford Mustang – pays it forward by mentoring and advocating, sharing her experiences and developing events that allow women to connect with others, build their network and grow personally and professionally. 

“Helping others build their career plans, find their passions or discuss how to navigate difficult situations are some things I’m doing to help guide others,” she said. 

Her enthusiasm for Ford is still going strong. 

“It has been an honor to work in the automotive industry and collaborate with such talented and passionate team members to deliver products consumers love,” she said. “There is nothing more rewarding to me than working with a broad cross-functional team to develop a winning aspiration for a new product and then bringing it to market. Seeing the vision take shape and our customers’ reaction to the product is awesome.”  

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Donna Dickson, chief program engineer, Mustang Mach-E

For Dickson, who worked on several vehicle programs, including Super Duty, F-150, Lincoln MKC/Corsair and Mustang Coupe, before becoming chief program engineer for the Mustang Mach-E, said the most difficult challenge for her has been achieving work-life balance. 

“Trying to manage being successful in my job with long days while raising two daughters and keeping the household in balance hasn’t been easy,” she said. “I really needed to use my planning skills to manage both, and I think I’ve done well. I’ve enjoyed a 30-year career, a 30-year marriage, and our daughters are grown and extremely successful.” 

She said Ford has given her the opportunity to succeed and work on some “unbelievable” projects and programs, and she’s been fortunate to have had some great mentors and work partners along the way.

“I have been able to tell the story of the Mach-E and how my team has approached this vehicle differently with an ‘always on’ process. We have been able to keep improving the product year over year and continue to bring new customers to Ford,” she said. “We also created a new Mustang Mach-E Rally and took the first ever Mustang to race in the dirt and entered the vehicle in Rebelle Rally last fall, which is made up of all women drivers.” 

Dickson gives back by helping to mentor others. 

“I love to help people think about their career development and make additional connections to aid in their careers,” she said. “I think when an individual has the experience I have at Ford, guiding teams through processes and systems is important, but it’s not just about program delivery. It’s about making yourself approachable to young, new employees and helping them be successful in their positions.” 

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Kelley Clark, chief program engineer, Explorer, Police Interceptor and Lincoln Aviator 

One of the challenges Clark faced in the early part of her career was a lack of women and mothers in leadership positions to learn from, but she’s made it a point to change that for others. 

“I have had opportunities to share my personal journey – my successes, but perhaps more importantly my mistakes or decisions I would have made differently,” she said. “I have also learned that inclusion is most powerful at Ford when we truly listen to other viewpoints and try to be empathetic to another person’s perspective.” 

Clark said she benefited from having many mentors throughout her nearly 32-year career at Ford. 

“I’ve learned so much from our Ford family, our technical experts and colleagues whom I have worked with over the years,” she said. “Ford also supported me in getting my master’s degree in engineering and an MBA.” 

Clark spent 25 years in engineering roles before advancing to business management. She is currently chief program engineer for Explorer, Police Interceptor and Lincoln Aviator.  

“It has kept me on my toes, meaning I have had to adjust quickly – and often – to changing customer trends, expectations and demand,” she said. “Nothing beats working on a team to tackle an issue because when you solve a problem, it directly improves the customers’ experience.” 

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