Career ladder: Boler-Davis, 47, earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University in 1991. She joined GM in 1994 as an engineer in Warren before earning a master's in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York in 1998. She then became a plant manager at GM operations in Lansing and Arlington, Texas, and eventually in Orion Township. In June 2012, GM promoted Boler-Davis to vice president of global quality and customer experience before moving to her current role in 2014. She earned her MBA from Indiana University in 2015.
Power metrics: GM is the largest U.S. automaker with revenue of $152 billion and more than 216,000 employees. The Detroit-based automaker produces cars in 37 countries under 17 brands, including Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC, Holden, Opel and more. "I try to spend as much time as possible with my global team to better understand cultural differences and how we can best serve our customers in different markets. Even though the U.S. is one of our key markets, I would like to spend more time in our other regions to support growth of our connectivity business as well as providing the same level of high quality customer experiences for all of our brands."
Special skill: "Working with diverse groups of people to solve challenging problems. I am able to collaborate to find win-win solutions by assembling the right group of people and empowering them to make decisions and drive the business."
Biggest accomplishment: "Concurrently leading a vehicle program and a manufacturing facility. At the time, I was the vehicle chief engineer for the Chevrolet Sonic and the plant manager at Orion Assembly, where the Sonic is built. It was a very challenging and rewarding experience. I had to take my leadership to a different level to be able to manage two very demanding roles and to ensure a flawless launch of a new product."
Power lesson: "Having the courage to take calculated risks and to try new areas, even though it might not be the most comfortable thing to do. Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone is key to both personal and professional growth."
Why you chose the automotive industry: "Growing up in the Detroit area, I was always fascinated with cars. Working in the industry was a great way for me to learn new things, contribute and have fun at the same time."
Advice for women in the field: "Be bold. Challenge the status quo. Do not be afraid to speak up and express your views. In the meantime, continue to learn and develop your skills. Understand yourself better than anyone else. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are and make a personal commitment to improve in the areas where you need to get better."
On women in automotive: "Women are making major contributions in the auto industry. I'm proud to work for a company that is very committed to diversity, and we have a number of women and minorities in leadership positions. Diversity has many dimensions, including diversity of thought. I strongly believe the more diverse our employees' thoughts and experiences are, the more likely we'll be able to understand and anticipate our customers' wants and needs."
Jennette SmithHere's how we produced this special section.
Jennette SmithWe view all of our honorees over the years as part of a "legacy list," some of whom should be considered as prospects for corporate and nonprofit board service.
Vickie ElmerNot that they have a lot of free time, but when they do, here's how the 100 Most Influential Women fill it.
Sherri WelchThe new study by Grand Valley State University of Fortune 500 boards shows a correlation between board diversity and healthier profits, and Michigan companies have ample opportunity to improve board diversity, the study's co-author says.
Staff Blog | Jennette SmithI've been living and breathing this project for months and got by with a little help from my friends in the newsroom and at companies across the state.
Staff Blog | Mary KramerThat's why Crain's Detroit Business has joined with the Michigan Women's Commission and Deloitte, among others, to create a path to help more companies find talent for their boards.
Crain's Detroit BusinessIn an effort to boost women's representation on for-profit corporate boards, Crain's Detroit Business on Tuesday night launched the Michigan Women's Directory. The launch coincided with the 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan recognition event that was attended by about 700 people.