Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Alumna named in top 100 women in auto industry
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
For Carolyn Woznicki, MBA ’91, being named in Automotive News’ list of the 100 leading women in the American automotive industry was a surprise and an honor. Growing up, she never thought she’d be where she is today, but with hard work, good choices and a solid education, Woznicki said it is possible for anyone to succeed.
Woznicki, who worked her way through the master’s of business administration program at OU in the evenings, said her experiences at OU provided a solid background for her growth at Johnson Controls where she is vice president and general manager of purchasing for North America.
“A big aspect of the MBA program was engaging in group activities to complete major assignments. Certainly being able to communicate and ‘team’ to accomplish mutual success is a key activity in the work environment,” Woznicki said. “It is interesting to encounter similar issues that were represented as case studies from other firms in this class. Finance, investment, taxation and human resource management are topics that have also been helpful to me in a variety of ways as I have engaged in business over the last years.”
Growing up, Woznicki had no real exposure to the automotive industry and did not know about careers within it. She started as a production supervisor in a General Motors plant and moved up from there. After earning her MBA, she spent time as a purchasing agent and supplier quality manager for GM before stepping into the director of purchasing position with Johnson Controls, a company she has been with ever since.
“I feel very fortunate that things have turned out pretty well because I certainly couldn’t say that I had a certain plan for the route I ended up taking throughout my career,” Woznicki said. “I think it is important for people to be flexible about career choices and try different things, taking some measured risks in order to grow.”
Within the last decade, the presence of women in the automotive industry has increased, especially at the executive level. Woznicki said the leadership of women provides a balanced view in terms of customer needs and desires and having women at these levels only helps the auto industry appeal to every possible market.
“I think women and men perhaps go about decision, debate and decision majoring with different styles, although this is more a function of personality versus being gender based,” Woznicki said. “The important thing is to have a range of styles engaged in the discussion, debate and decision making, so different perspectives can be considered and then hopefully the discussion leads to more complete and well thought out strategies and decision making.”
While women are challenged in the workplace, Woznicki said men and women at her level of any profession face a challenge that even an education couldn’t prepare for.
“This disadvantage I think applies to both women and men, which is not having enough time to get all the things done that you’d like to,” Woznicki said. “Between work, family, social and other commitments, it’s a challenge to juggle it all and feel like you’ve not shortchanged one aspect.”
Despite the challenge, Woznicki encourages both men and women to strive for the best.
“Be sure to build bridges with many people and network,” Woznicki said. “Take some measure risks in exploring new positions that you may not have thought about. Try to be well rounded in your knowledge about many things. Be flexible. Have fun along the way.”