To Celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, we sat down with a family of successful engineers at GM — three happen to be women.
June 23, 2023, marks International Women in Engineering Day, which brings awareness and recognition to the outstanding contributions from women across science, technology, engineering, and math fields, otherwise known as STEM.
For Rechargeable Energy Storage Systems (RESS) Launch Lead, Alison Holland, Women in Engineering Day offers a moment to reflect on the efforts of those who paved the way in this traditionally male-dominated field — and she doesn’t have to look far.
Three of Alison’s five immediate family members work at General Motors, forging their way in the engineering field. Her mom, Kathy, senior manager of Manufacturing Engineering Body Product Interface, and dad, Dave, Orion Assembly Paint launch manager started the trend. Meanwhile, her sister Chelsea Rood followed a similar engineering track before shifting into her latest role as a strategic business planning manager in GM’s Customer Care and Aftersales organization.
As the RESS Launch Lead, Alison plays a critical role in establishing contiguous RESS production at Factory ZERO for Ultium battery packs, which are the foundation for our journey toward an all-electric future.
Growing up in a family of engineers, she’s no stranger to the idea that people solve problems more effectively when organizations include those with diverse opinions, and she believes teamwork is key in any successful initiative.
Alison also shared her greatest influence in pursuing engineering: support and inspiration from her mom. Kathy has worked with GM for over 35 years and sees firsthand how support for diversity and encouragement for women to take on engineering and manufacturing roles creates a better workplace. She started at GM as an intern, and after graduation, started at Pontiac East Assembly. Throughout her career, she has taken on roles of increasing scope in both operations and engineering such as leading body shop launches for the C7 Corvette Stingray, the Chevrolet Volt and the Cadillac CT6 just to name a few. In addition, she supported the HUMMER H3 and GMC HUMMER EV Pickup launches.
“Oftentimes, women get steered away from engineering, and more specifically manufacturing roles, as they are made to feel that they need to choose between a career and family life,” said Alison, reflecting on her mom’s experience. “But seeing my mom balance many challenging roles and making it a priority to be at a soccer game or school event for me and my siblings, proved to me that this is not the case.”
Chelsea, who has three daughters of her own, shared how being a parent helped her reflect on the tremendous impact her mom and dad had on her own career path. “I realized you can do both: forge a successful engineering career and be a mom. Though it may not always be an even split between work and home, having the support and encouragement from your family makes all the difference. My dad is my mom’s biggest supporter, and my siblings and I saw that growing up.”
In Alison’s experience, her parents’ motivation from the start is what made her journey to engineering possible. It’s also why she believes encouraging girls from an early age is so important in shaping the next generation of leaders. “Supporting RESS, which is redefining the relationship between transportation and sustainability, is how I feel I’m doing my part,” she said. “I’m proud to be a woman in engineering and to support sustainability advancements for future generations.”
Happy International Women in Engineering Day to all the women and allies that empower our vision of a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion!