First female boss at Ford's Dearborn truck plant shares secrets to success

Manzano's passion for vehicles began at a young age

By Sandra Ali - Anchor/Reporter

DEARBORN, Mich. - Ford's stock jumped Thursday on the heels of strong first-quarter earnings and that's largely because of its popular trucks.

Debbie Manzano is the first female boss at the Dearborn truck plant and she's sharing her secret to success and the reason why her passions run so deep.

When Manzano was a young girl she loved to tell people her father brought home some really cool cars and now their roles are reversed and he's the one bragging to his friends about his daughter's job.

Manzano is in charge of building the best selling pickup truck in America.

"We hit over a million vehicles in 2018 for F-Series overall and it is exhilarating and it's my passion," she said.

When she was fresh out of college she started working at the Rouge truck plant. Over her career she made stops at six factories including the Flat Rock Assembly plant, home of the Mustang. She made her way back to Dearborn, where her career began, and now she's the boss.

"I love vehicles, I love building, I think it's really exciting. The first day I stepped onto an assembly plant, when I saw that first vehicle come off the line, it gives you chills," she said.

She's the plant's first female manager and is in charge of roughly 4,300 employees.

Her passion for cars started at a young age. Her father was born in Austria and came to North America during World War II.

"My dad grew up in the automotive business. He started off as an hourly employee worked his way into supervision," she said."My dad, he never had a chance to go to college, he immigrated into Canada from Europe so I always saw what it did for him and his family."

She said she has had good mentors along the way who taught her how to get to the top through hard work.

"I was never scared to do 12 plus hours a day seven days a week. I never shy away from it, I actually enjoy it. My dad was like, a workaholic, so I think I get it from him," she said.

Manzano has made it her personal passion to support young women in manufacturing.

"There are more men in this business than women so we are working on how to advocate for women so we've been working on that sponsorship to help sponsor women," she said. "It's just a great career path we just need to show people that it's a clean environment, it's a respectful environment, it's a safe environment."

Currently, Ford has 28 plants in North America with only three other women in charge. At the Dearborn plant a quarter of the employees are women.

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