As part of Women's History Month, we're sharing the profiles of several women who played an influential role in bringing the 50th Anniversary 2015 Ford Mustang to life, as well as women who have contributed to this American icon throughout its history.
It's easy to associate sportiness and “masculine cool” with the Mustang's "musclecar" image, so it may come as a surprise to learn that some of the key players -- engineers, designers, executives, and customers -- in bringing the Mustang to life over the past 50 years have been women.
Women already represent a significant portion of Ford’s labor force across all levels of the company. According to a 2014-15 sustainability report, women make up about 23 percent of Ford’s domestic workforce (including hourly and salaried employees), as well as 26 percent of its global workforce. Of that global percentage, 18 percent held positions in the company that were at the middle management level and above.
Of Ford’s 16-member board of directors, two are women; and of their 42 corporate officers, six are women. Moreover, outside groups and agencies have recognized Ford for their commitment to diversity.
Today, women hold key roles in the development of the Mustang as well as many other Ford vehicles, ranging from choosing colors and materials, to engineering the customer drive experience, to continuing Ford's legacy of being a household name.
Did you know: The first person to buy a Mustang was a woman? Chicago schoolteacher Gail Brown made history on April 15th, 1964, when she bought an eggshell blue convertible and became the first Mustang owner in America. She was 22 years old and fresh out of teaching school when she bought the car; looking back, Gail recalls “I was the coolest teacher in the school that year.” According to Classic Car Labs, http://classiccarlabs.com/2016/01/23/this-retired-school-teacher-still-owns-the-very-first-mustang-ever-sold/ Gail still owns the vehicle today; her husband, Tom Wise, was responsible for the vehicle's complete restoration in 2006.
Marcy has had a long-term passion for Mustang, and as the vehicle line director on the 2015 Mustang program, Marcy oversaw each detail of its development, from the planning process to dealer showrooms.
Marcy also holds the position of vehicle line director for the Explorer, Taurus, Police Interceptor, Flex, and Escape development.
Marcy has 28 years’ engineering expertise in manufacturing and product development. She joined Ford Motor Company in 1986 as an engineer. Since then, she has held a number of positions at Ford, including several years of holding engineering positions at Ford assembly plants, where the vehicles comes together on the plant assembly line; and director of design engineering in product development.
People development has also been a passion of Marcy’s since joining Ford. In addition to her core responsibilities, Marcy has been active in multiple aspects of people development at Ford Motor Company. She has served as co-chair of the vehicle operations diversity council, as a board member of the Ford Design Institute, and as co-chair of vehicle operations’ Ford College Graduate Program. Marcy has also worked as a mentor in the Manufacturing Leadership Program, and is a member of the personnel development committee.
She has twice been named to the 100 Leading Women in the Automotive Industry list by Automotive News.
Drivers of the latest-generation Ford Mustang get a world-class driving experience thanks in part to the efforts of vehicle integration supervisor Michele Lubin Henney. A lifelong motorsports enthusiast, Michele’s passion was sparked in her grandfather’s auto body shop and during weekends spent at the track watching her father race motocross. Today, she has her own collection of motorcycles and loves to hit the road with her husband and ride in her free time.
While many of the other engineers are responsible for specific systems and components, Michele is responsible for the integration of attributes -- how the car sounds, how it feels when it drives, the fuel economy, if it's comfortable for the driver and passengers, etc.
Michele says her goal is to provide the best holistic experience for the customer: “Mustang attracts a variety of customers, all of whom want to get their ultimate ‘Mustang’ driving experience when they get behind the wheel,” explains Michelle. “As one of the female engineers on the program, I can offer a different perspective from the men on the team. I believe the end result is the most refined total driving experience we’ve ever offered our customers.”
Her favorite part of her job is time spent behind the wheel evaluating all aspects of the driving experience as she works toward creating the ultimate vehicle to satisfy her customers.
“Customer expectations for Mustang are different from other cars. People love their Mustangs. With our involvement with racing, owner’s groups and enthusiast events, I’ve had to opportunity to get to know the Mustang customer to a level I had not experienced on other programs,” says Michele. “Every engineer at Ford is passionate about the work they do, but the performance, style, and sound of Mustang inspires a personal connection to the car that makes us want to take it to new levels. I’m so proud to be a part of this team.”
As a vehicle that first prided itself as “the car designed to be designed by you,” Mustang has always offered customers an incredibly diverse array of colors, packages and special editions to make each car a personal creation. For the past decade, Ford chief color and materials designer Susan Lampinen has guided the process of selecting those often iconic exterior paint colors as well as the colors and materials that adorn the Mustang cabin.
“Mustang paint colors need to denote performance, sportiness, and power,” says Susan. “I’m looking at authentic, expressive materials that need to be more premium with a relentless attention to detail. With Mustang, I’m not afraid to take a risk.”
While many colors and materials used over the years occupy Susan’s personal palette of favorites, one of the current hues, Race Red stands out among the rest. Susan says it is a color that captures the athleticism, power, and passion of the pony car –- and what Mustang doesn’t look good in a very bold, expressive red?
As the U.S.-market Mustang brand manager, Melanie Banker played a critical role in bringing the 50th Anniversary Mustang to customers in the marketplace and then monitoring its performance.
A member of the Mustang team for several years, Melanie was a part of both the research and development of the 2015 50th Anniversary Mustang, as well as the consumer marketing process.
“Men and women may use their cars and vehicle features differently, so having both men and women involved in our research and development process is extremely important,” explains Melanie, “so it is important for us to keep all customer groups in mind when making vehicle decisions.”
“I hear from customers every single day, sharing the things they love about their car and people send me pictures of themselves with their Mustangs,” says Melanie. “I get requests from seven year-olds asking me questions about why we made certain vehicle decisions.”
A Missouri native, Melanie has lived all over the country and now resides in Michigan with her two dogs.
“The dedication that the team as a whole has is amazing, because everyone here knows how much Mustang means to its fans and to Ford,” adds Melanie. “Working on the product side gave me a whole new appreciation for how a company puts together a vehicle, and it has been exceptionally rewarding.”