Name: Leah Bruce
Job title: Diesel manufacturing strategy manager
Company: Ford Motor Company
What career did you want when you were growing up, and what was your first job?
I never really knew what I wanted to do, other than be in an office, working for a big company and wear a suit with big shoulder pads! It was the 80s! As to what I did in that suit, I didn’t really know.
My first job was selling ice-creams in a small three-screen local cinema. I was one of those people who stood at the front of the auditorium with a tray. I loved that job, but soon realised that whilst I was good with people, I really wasn’t cut out for sales.
Can you describe a typical day?
I don’t have a typical day to be fair. No two days are ever the same, which is one of the aspects I really like about this industry. I can be on a call with teams in Australia before 7am one day and working late another to work with the teams in the US another. I will do a lot of data analysis one day, or lots of meetings another, come in having planned my day only for that to all change. What is constant therefore is being flexible and adaptable.
However, I do always start and end each day by walking my dog Bernie, which I find helps me have a clear and open mind and recharge.
What are the best and worst elements of your job?
The best bit I enjoy the most is the people I work with without a doubt. It is important to make connections and have a wide far-reaching network, which this role provides in abundance. I work with many different people around the globe at varying levels, which I work hard at to maintain and enjoy. This role gives me such wonderful opportunities to learn more about the changing world and the different cultures within it.
The worst bit of my job is planning so far ahead of time means it takes so long to see the results. I am currently working on programs that will hit the market onwards of 2022.
I absolutely love my job, it brings all of my skills together, all of my learnings and experience to date and I get to wear a suit I so craved (without the big shoulder pads). Yet I found it by accident, as I failed my A-levels. Instead of persisting with the career path I had chosen before my exams (law) I went down the route of finding what suited me, what interested me. As such, I am a firm believer everything happens for a reason.
How important is it to highlight and promote women in what is a largely male dominated industry?
Women can be and are extremely successful in the automotive industry, however we don’t talk about it. Women don’t like to talk about their successes as men do. We generally don’t like to draw attention to ourselves. Yet only by highlighting the successes and changing the image of the industry will we start to make it an industry of choice. I am very proud to say that I work for Ford Motor Company, a household name, and even more proud of the fact that my department is 100% female. We are a small manufacturing department, but we are 100% female and it is wonderful that this does not draw attention. It is simply accepted. Yet only by drawing attention to such existences, will we change the image of the industry.
What can be done to encourage more women in to the automotive industry?
Manufacturing is certainly not one that is seen as “sexy” or “attractive”. We have to lose the dirty, boring image people have as it is so far from the truth. You can pretty much have any kind of job imaginable in this industry, yet it is not an industry of choice, and certainly not by women. We have to change this.
Only by making this industry attractive and exciting to all will we be able to ensure that can truly get the right person for the job. As such, it is important that we all do our bit to highlight the benefits, the possibilities, and the joy at all levels.
I believe we all need to do our bit to break these barriers down and only by making everyone understand the endless exciting possibilities of innovation, invention and technological development that exist will we change the issues surrounding our industry.
Flexible working, job sharing, working from home are all possible in the automotive industry. Actions speak louder than words and as an industry we have to start communicating out that we are changing with the times, are forward thinking and adaptable and there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in the automotive industry. As we do with our products, we all need to create a positive brand for the automotive industry and engineering. The only constant is change how exciting is that?! How many industries can say that?
What would be your dream engine specification for today’s eco-friendly world?
One that like Bernie and me in the mornings, leaves nothing but our footprints behind.
In your opinion, what is the greatest engine that has ever been produced?
I cannot confess to being a petrol head and as such am really not an expert on the type of engines and therefore probably know less than you think I do. The real excitement for me is Manufacturing, how we make things and put them together.
I would therefore have to say the engines of tomorrow, as each new engine just gets better and better. The progression we are seeing in this industry is just so exciting.
What car do you currently drive?
I currently drive a Ford (obviously!) Fiesta 3 door
Titanium 1.0T Ecoboost 125PS 5 speed in Deep Impact Blue. The colour is important!
In your opinion, what does the future hold for diesel as a fuel source?
I think there is definitely a future for diesel as a fuel source and not just for Ford Motor Company. At Ford we believe in a powertrain of choice for our customers and particularly with diesel being very strong for us in the commercial vehicle market this type of powertrain will continue to be an important part of our line-up going forward.
Which OEMs do you have an engineering respect for?
All, every single one of them. They all have something special and unique to offer customers, potential employees in what will certainly be an exciting future.
What will be powering a typical family sedan in 2030?
We are living in such exciting times, and technology is changing so rapidly in every aspect of our lives, which means we will see a complete change in transportation services. I think the choice will therefore be immense in 2030, far greater than today.
Obviously, it is very hard to predict the future we all need to be flexible, adaptable and open-minded both as customers and as suppliers.