To begin with, I’d like to say “thank you” to Profiles in Diversity Journal for this prestigious award. This is very meaningful to me because it reminds me of what my parents used to tell me and my brother: “Work hard, treat people the way you want to be treated and it will all work out.” It’s been a great philosophy to live by in both my personal and professional life.

Two other big markers for me are integrity and character. These are qualities I expect of myself and look for in others. This means always doing the right thing even when no one is watching, even when it is hard. With integrity and character as a foundation, you and your teams can accomplish great things.

I’m often asked how I was able to survive in a male-dominated industry like automotive. While that may be a fair assessment of the business, it’s not how I have approached what has been a fascinating journey. I always tried to learn as much as possible from those I worked with and for, while also contributing as much as possible on my own. I never expected to be given anything except an opportunity. After that, it was up to me to prove my value. I also always focused on the job at hand and didn’t worry about what was next, remembering the advice my parents gave me.

Today I have the privilege of leading GM’s Global Product Development team of more than 30,000 designers and engineers who are responsible for developing cars, trucks and crossovers for customers in over 130 countries. To make sure that my team and I are doing all we can to bring customers the highest quality and value vehicles, I encourage open dialogue, high engagement and true teamwork.

I want everyone feeling like their voice can and will be heard, whether you’re a designer in Detroit or an engineer in Shanghai. Diversity of thought and experience is a competitive advantage. And once we decide on a course of action, we move forward together and get the job done quickly and efficiently.

I take special interest in young professionals trying to break new ground within GM and the auto industry. There were many men and women who helped me along my way. This is my way of giving back. I hope those who read this essay may in some small way be inspired to pursue a career, automotive or otherwise, that will take them to places they never dreamed of before.