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Women in the Automotive Industry: Liz Pilibosian, General Motors Vehicle Chief Engineer of the 2008 Cadillac CTS

Published Nov 15th 2007, 7:00pm by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles

Liz_pilibosian Liz began her GM career in 1982 as a project engineer at Pontiac Motor Division. Since then, she's worked on variety of technical projects including developing complex stress and vibration analysis models, hardware testing and validation, and evaulating underhood/underbody thermal validation, engine noise, and vibration on an assortment of vehicles, including Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, Chevrolet Lumina, Pontiac Grand Prix, and Buick Regal.

Let's just say this woman understands what it means to shake, rattle, and roll!

Liz was the Lead Development Engineer on the Camaro/Firebird IV platform, Assistant Brand Manager-Product for the Trans Sport Montana models, and in 2004 was named Vehicle Chief Engineer of the 2008 Cadillac. She is now responsible for the engineering, development and validation of this vehicle as well as meeting global requirements for sales in multiple countries.

AskPatty: Can you tell me a little bit about your career and how you came to work in the auto industry?
Pilibosian: I began my early engineering work as a cooperative education student in college, as an engineering student during my work sessions, and a technician on second shift during school sessions with Bendix Corporation. Growing up & living in the Detroit area coupled with my love for automobiles naturally attracted me to the automotive industry. General Motors was a perfect fit & I began my career at the Pontiac Motor Division as a computer aided design engineer. As I continued my career within General Motors, I held positions in development (ride and handling, underhood and underbody thermal validation, windnoise, noise and vibration), marketing for Pontiac Motor Division, Manager for door systems, Director for Noise & Vibration and in my present position as Vehicle Chief Engineer for the new Cadillac CTS.

2008_cadillac_cts AskPatty: What are the challenges for you as a women working in the automotive industry?
Pilibosian: One of the biggest challenges I face is the balance of family and work. Being able to maintain the pace and travel of work life as well as the pace of two growing girls and their schedules is not an easy task. Within the automotive area, proving my position and decisions was something I did in the past and continue to do every day. I have always had the respect and consideration of my peers, but have also run into folks that may not understand my background and the fact that I could do the job I was given.

AskPatty: Can you tell me a little bit about your job and company?
Pilibosian: What do you do as a daily job? My company, General Motors, is an automotive manufacturer of cars and trucks. Our major goal is designing, developing and fabricating vehicles for a global market that satifies our future customers wants and needs. My current postion is the Vehicle Chief Engineer for the new Cadillac CTS as well as a few future products. For the current CTS, I review changes planned for the program, I review the status of testing and validation and make decisions based on engineering data provided all while balancing requirements. An example of requirements could be mass, packaging, materials, content and design tradeoffs. I ride vehicles when a system is ready for evaluation. I also participate on extended rides to evaluate and experience vehicles as a customer would. I also review new technologies and determine how to integrate these future into a new vehicle architecture.

2008_cadillac_cts_rear AskPatty: What if any are the big changes you are seeing today in how vehicles are being marketed to women?
Pilibosian: I believe we still have a way to go to improve the buying experience for women. From an engineering experience, we are offering more flexibility in seat movement, articulating foot pedals, creative and functional storage areas, buttons, knobs and handles that can be used easily with nails. Interior designs, colors and materials that enhance the driving experience. Among my female peers, we feel that if we satify the ladies then the men will also be satified.

AskPatty: Tell me about your most recent personal experience buying a vehicle. What vehicle did you buy, and why did you buy it? Pilibosian: I purchased a H3 and will be purchasing another vehicle in the next four months. I purchased a H3 because this vehicle was new, appealing and featured a new interior. The interior is absolutely beautiful. Reminds me of cowboys and the west. My husband and I liked the H2, but felt the H3 was a great way to experience the Hummer feel and look without the size.

AskPatty: What is one piece of "good" advice you would give women before they buy a new vehicle or search for automotive products?
Pilibosian: My advice is to write down the five things you need out of a vehicle. Then write down the what you want out of a vehicle. Then match them up!

AskPatty: What advice would you give other women who are looking to get involved in a career in the automotive industry?

Pilibosian: General Motors has given me a great, satisfying, challenging and rewarding career! In the automotive business, one can obtain experiences not only in engineering (as I did) but also in finance, marketing, quality, manufacturing, testing, planning and puchasing (to name a few). An automotive OEM can offer so many areas of expertise, especially for women. In my mind, there are no boundaries if you put your mind to it!


Jody DeVere

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