Laura Soave

Head of FIAT Brand North America
Chrysler Group LLC

I am a first-generation Italian-American, born and raised in Detroit. Growing up in the Motor City, I swore I would never work in the automotive industry. I also spent my childhood trying to fit into American culture and never truly embraced my Italian heritage. As life would have it, I am now heading up the return of an iconic Italian automotive brand to North America. My journey is proof that no matter how well you try to plan your life, your experiences are what make you unique and successful.

I don’t believe success can be defined by any one person or that there is a definition that fits all. I do believe that success is measured daily, and there is never an end to one’s personal or professional success. Some days, I am a successful head of a brand and a leader, and on others, I am a successful daughter, sister, aunt or friend. Both are equally rewarding and important.

My guiding principles for success are to be true to yourself and trust your own voice, define success in your own terms, and avoid setting artificial limits on yourself.

Don’t be afraid to express your point of view. The market is becoming so fragmented and diverse that the onesize-fits-all approach no longer works. Share your ideas and opinions, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Do not let anyone force a notion of success on you. We all have to work on our personal definition of success and accept that this can evolve over time. For example, when you start your career working 12 hours a day, learning about your business and developing contacts, this may be success for you. However, if you start building a family, your priorities may shift, and a better work-life balance becomes the new standard of success.

See obstacles as opportunities in waiting. Don’t allow your mind to believe that something can’t be done; that being a woman in the automotive industry is inherently an advantage or disadvantage; or that the world is against you. Identify your strengths, develop who you are in the market place and the value you can add to an organization, and then work hard. Talent, perseverance and hard work defeat stereotypes, and tangible results speak for themselves.

I also believe that we need some flexibility for life to take its own course. Trust your instincts, but know that the wind may push you in a direction you never expected. Go with it, and use your gifts and talents to better the work and the world wherever you are led.

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