By Ashley Reyes
The SEMA Businesswomen's Network (SBN) has named Autumn Schwalbe, Ford Performance Parts Planner and Specialist at Ford Motor Company, as the network's newest #SheIsSEMA spotlight member. Get to know Schwalbe and how her passion for vehicles has boosted her career in the SEMA News interview below.
SEMA News: How many years have you been with your current company, and what do you enjoy most about working there?
Ford Performance Parts Planner and Specialist Autumn Schwalbe: I've been with Ford full-time for three years, and I've also had three summer internships with them. I love working with great people and all the Ford Performance vehicles.
SEMA News: What is the most challenging part of your business or job?
AS: The most challenging part has been learning a whole new side of the automotive industry. I knew the basics about chassis, and now I'm working as a chassis parts specialist and planner. It has been a challenge to learn everything, but I also have a huge desire to learn new things.
SN: How many years have you been in the industry, and what was your first industry job?
AS: Seven years--my first job was at the Ford Performance Info Center/Tech Line, answering phone calls to answer questions regarding Ford Performance vehicles and parts. I also attended events as a product specialist.
SN: What three qualities got you to where you are today?
AS: Passion, determination and work ethic, these qualities have helped me stand out from others my age. I have worked very hard to get to where I am, and my passion shines through when others don't have a passion for vehicles and racing.
SN: Being a woman in the industry, what have been your biggest challenges and accomplishments?
AS: Being a woman is very hard in a male-dominated industry, but it pushes me to step out of my comfort zone. Sometimes, I am questioned, but I bring a new and fresh perspective to my role.
SN: Who are your role models or mentors in the industry?
AS: My role models are Jeannee Kirkaldy with Ford Performance Motorsports, Natalie Simon with Ford Performance Parts and Nicole McElroy with RECARO; they have all guided me and gave me amazing advice.
SN: What is the best career advice you have received?
AS: Do what you love, and it will never feel like work. I continue to go on a path that isn't normal at Ford Motor Company. I follow my passion for motorsports and performance.
SN: Have you always wanted to work in the automotive industry?
AS: Yes, I knew I wanted to work in the industry. The amazing people and vehicles keep me here. My passion is automotive marketing and working events. I love the customers and showing girls and women that they can also work in the industry!
SN: Who was the most influential person on your career/goals?
AS: My best friend Amanda Sorenson. She has helped me and even helped me celebrate my career milestones and goals.
Fill out a #SheIsSEMA spotlight form to submit a self-nomination or nominate a colleague and highlight how you or she is contributing to the specialty-equipment industry. Selected candidates are automatically eligible to be considered for SBN's #SheIsSEMA Woman of the Year award, featured on SBN's social media, SEMA News and recognized on the sema.org/she-is-sema website.