"I've always been upfront with the leaders I work with," she says. "The first thing I tell them is that I'll do the best job I can on any assignment they give me, but they need to know that my family life is important as well. I let them know that balance is really important to me, and they need to know what my priorities are."
But a "balance" means different things to different people, she notes.
"It's an individual thing; my sister is a teacher who balances her family with her career by getting the summers off," Ms. Lieblein says. "And the balance changes as you progress in your career and as you progress through your family life. When I was pregnant with my daughter, she was my focus. At that point, I couldn't take a new assignment that required a lot of travel or having to learn anything new because I physically didn't have the energy.
"Balance isn't a level line that you draw and stick to. It ebbs and flows depending upon how your professional life and family life changes."
As a female executive in engineering, Ms. Lieblein has become an instant role model for young women in the company who want to have a family life along with a career.
"I tell people that I had to learn quickly that I couldn't be everything to everybody," she says. "I couldn't be the class mom, the Girl Scout leader, and have a challenging career all at the same time. You have to pick and choose. So, one year I was the class mom. A couple years later, I was the Girl Scout leader.
"Now my daughter is 15 and doesn't need me around as much, and, at that age, kids don't want you around as much either," she jokes. "So, I was able to take on this latest career challenge with the Enclave."
GRACE UNDER FIRE
And as the U.S. auto market has shifted away from the bulky SUVs and toward smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles, many challenges lie ahead for Ms. Lieblein and GM. But she says there hasn't been a time in her career that the auto industry wasn't ultra-competitive.
"Is it more competitive today than it was four or five years ago? Not really," Ms. Lieblein says. "Obviously, the market share aspect adds pressure, but in engineering we know that we need to be putting great products out into the marketplace. I know that's what I can do to contribute to the company's turnaround.
"The financial and market share standpoints are always in the back of your mind, and that adds pressure, but there's healthy pressure and unhealthy pressure. Our team knows it has to focus on making good products. Frankly, we're fortunate that we've received outstanding feedback from the media about the Enclave. There are a lot of tough critics out there and there are all kinds of forums on the auto industry. And the feedback has been consistently outstanding. It's a credit to the team and all of our blood, sweat and tears."
Ms. Lieblein mentors employees within her company and aspiring students at New Mexico State University through the GM Key Institution program. She tells them to figure out what their goals are, but she admits, "I'm so bad at taking my own advice."
She said she doesn't have her eye on a vice-president's post, or any other rung on the GM corporate ladder. She only wants to feel as though her strengths and skills are being utilized while she has fun at her job and makes time for her family.
"It's not unique to Latinas, but I have strong family ties," she says. "I have my husband, my daughter, and my extended family, and I enjoy spending time with them. Without that, it's not worth it."
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