Best Advice: Start With Your Passions, Grow Through Hard Work

March 10, 2015


The best advice I ever received came from my parents, who encouraged me to work hard and pursue my early love of math. This was great advice for two reasons.

First, it led me to do something I really loved. In my experience, in work and in life, there are lots of smart, talented people out there. But talent alone is never enough. One of the things that distinguishes those who truly make a difference is passion and hard work. There is truth in the expression that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. And the passion that drives hard work comes from doing something you really love.

The second reason this was great advice is that it steered me toward a career in engineering at a time when few women were pursuing work in science, technology, engineering or math – fields that, collectively, we now call STEM.

Just like they did when I was starting out, the STEM fields provide some of the most rewarding careers in America today. As engineers, scientists, and inventors, we get to imagine what’s next, and then make it happen.

In the auto business, our challenge is to provide solutions for our customers in an industry that changes daily. In fact, I believe we will see more change in our industry in the next five to ten years than we have in the last 50. I’m talking about huge improvements in vehicle electrification, connectivity, propulsion, safety, and even cars that drive themselves. We are at the start of a technological revolution that is going to change the way we drive and interact with our cars, trucks, and crossovers even as we make them more efficient, more relevant and more exciting than ever before.

Who will drive these changes? Engineers, scientists, inventors and others with the passion and talent to go into STEM.

Of course, it’s not just the auto industry where STEM grads will make a difference. In the next five years, more than three-quarters of the jobs created in the U.S. are expected to be STEM-related. Unfortunately, though, the number of U.S. students pursuing STEM careers has dropped off dramatically. By 2020, for example, it’s now estimated that the U.S. will face a shortage of some half a million engineers.

So, the opportunities for today’s STEM grads are tremendous. And for women, Hispanics and African-Americans, they are even better. These groups will make up a significant portion of the future American workforce, yet they are the most underrepresented groups in many STEM fields today.

What advice would I give to someone thinking about careers today? The same advice I got: do what you love and work hard. And if you love math or science, get ready to love what you do.

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