Advocating Women in Engineering Award

Michelle Wood

General Motors

For driving diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the automotive industry; for technical leadership that promotes career growth; and for staunch advocacy on behalf of women and minorities in STEM.

Michelle Wood is director of materials, fastening, and advanced manufacturing product integration at General Motors (GM). Previously, she held two director roles: interior director for instrument panels, floor consoles, door trim, instrument panel structures, decorative trim, ambient lighting, and mechanisms; and chassis director of tire and wheel systems and fastening engineering. In addition, Wood has served as senior manager for chassis validation.

Wood’s fascination with the automotive business led her to a career of more than 20 years at GM, which started with five internships, GM’s engineering rotational program, and a role as a noise and vibration engineer. She has published several papers with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and she developed an SAE standard on power steering pump noise testing. In 2006, she became an engineering group manager and held management positions in noise and vibration and suspension and chassis structures.

Wood has dedicated her career to mentoring and developing others. More than 20 of her mentees — the majority of whom are women and/or from traditionally underrepresented groups — have been promoted to management and executive levels.

One of Wood’s most noteworthy contributions is serving as the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) lead (executive champion) for the Global Hardware, Systems and Integration (GHSI) organization, a department of almost 8,000 engineers. She was the first to create a director-led DEI team and then grew it across the entire organization. Under her DEI leadership, the GHSI organization achieved a record high inclusion index of 81%, which is 8% above average across other benchmarked companies. She implemented several GHSI initiatives, including Share Your Stories, Power Hours, unconscious bias training, and personalized DEI goals for every person in the organization.

Outside of GM, Wood has mentored a FIRST LEGO robotics team in the Milford (Michigan) School District. She is also a member of the engineering curriculum advisory board of Lake Orion High School, also in Michigan. The board consists of teachers, professors, students, and industry professionals. At the collegiate level, she is a member of the University of Michigan’s university relations team, and she has given more than 30 speeches at that university and at other professional society functions, communicating the success women can have in the automotive industry. Wood is actively involved in the Society of Women Engineers, the Society of Plastics Engineering, SME (formerly known as the Society of Manufacturing Engineers), and Inforum, whose specific mission is to accelerate women’s careers.

Wood graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S.E. and an M.S.E. in mechanical engineering; she graduated with distinction from the New York Institute of Technology with an MBA; and she holds a certificate in additive manufacturing for innovative design and production from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She and her husband have two children.