AWESOME has selected two outstanding trail-blazers and role models to receive the 2018 AWESOME Legendary Leadership Award. They are Susan Seilheimer Brennan, Chief Operations Officer, Bloom Energy Corporation, and Ilya R. Espino de Marotta, Executive Vice President for Engineering and Programs Management, Panama Canal Authority. Their achievements in their chosen fields would be remarkable for any leader – that much more so because they are women in traditionally male fields.
Susan Brennan has 25 years of experience in global manufacturing and operations for the automotive and energy industries. In strategic leadership roles for Nissan Motor and Ford Motor – both Fortune 100 companies — she spearheaded large-scale initiatives and drove the companies’ transformations with systemic process and corporate culture change. At Nissan, she was the highest ranking woman in operations – and one of the few women who have held an executive position at a leading Japanese corporation. She ran the largest automotive manufacturing plant in the world and led the introduction of five new car models for Nissan, including the first Infiniti built outside of Japan and the all-electric Nissan Leaf.
At Ford, Susan ran the global business office for the assembly, power train and stamping plants on six continents. She was a key member of the global team that reorganized Ford under its “Way Forward” program. In addition to developing and implementing a strategic plan for the restructuring of labor and manufacturing capacity for Ford, she led the charge to address diversity imbalance among Ford’s management, from production supervisors to directors. She also co-chaired the Women in Manufacturing Employee Resource Group.
As COO of Bloom Energy, Susan is responsible for global supply chain and purchasing, as well as all new product launch strategy and sales execution, operations, capacity management, labor management, EHS strategy and compliance and government affairs.
Throughout her career, Susan has created and supported organizations that encourage young women to pursue careers in math and science. Among these endeavors are serving as a national advisory board member for the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) at Stanford University and President and founder of the Southern Automotive Women’s Forum. She is past vice president of the Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation in Detroit, Michigan and served as an advisory board member for the University Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math at Middle Tennessee State University. Twice, she has been named to “Top 100 Women in Automotive” by Automotive News. She is a Distinguished Alumni of University of Nebraska at Omaha, and in 2016, she was honored as a Woman of Influence, Silicon Valley. Susan serves on the board of Senior PLC, a FTSE listed company.