December's Member of the Month, Tameka Thompson, Customer Quality Engineer at Magna

on December 11, 2023

I am an automotive quality engineer working with the Tier 1 supply base to provide automotive components to OEMs from concept, design, validation, launch and production. I have been in the automotive industry for thirty-two years. I have seen the highs and lows of automotive but have been able to successfully sustain a meaningful and fun career.  

I believe in the power of positive mindset, thoughts, and manifestation. I learned the importance of setting goals and intentionally working towards those goals by continuously learning and growing. I did not grow up with a lot of guidance and leadership in my pursuit of my career, however, I always believed that I would become an engineer. Through tears, frustration, and pure dedication I was able to earn my degree and continue my education. I used my experiences to start my own coaching career called JKG Consulting (Just Keep Going). My philosophy is No matter what, trust the process and Just Keep Going!  

 

 



Why did you join the Women Automotive Network?  
 

I joined the Women Automotive Network for an opportunity to meet and share stories and experiences with other women in the industry. I have worked in automotive my entire career starting in my senior year in high school. Even with as many years and experience that I have within the industry I find that there are not enough opportunities for women to get together and converse about our experiences, successes, and pitfalls. As many of my colleagues have experienced most of the environments that we work in we are the only women or part of a small minority. I felt being a part of this network would provide me an opportunity to relax and talk about topics that are unique to women.  


Why is DE&I vital to you? 

I grew up in Flint, MI amongst a diverse group of people. However, when I entered college, in my hometown, I felt isolated and an outcast. I had never experienced an atmosphere where there was no diversity and I was the one and only women and/or the one and only minority, or the one and only black female. It was a difficult adjustment for me. I sought help from my guidance counselor at the school and his advice to me was to embrace it because when he graduated from our college there were no blacks or women that attended. I was shaken. This is when I became keenly aware of how important diversity and inclusion was. Growing up we didn’t have to speak on these topics, they were a given. Going to a school in that environment made me ensure that I was deliberate and intentional in ensuring that I treated everyone with respect and dignity. I have had the opportunity to serve people in the community that come from difficult situations. It has been my pleasure in helping to provide them with the necessary essentials needed to deal with the Flint water crisis. I believe each of us could make a great impact if we viewed everyone as a person with wants and needs just as we have. DE&I challenges us to look outside ourselves and consider others as we want to be considered.  

What is the number one automotive trend you are keeping up with currently?  

I am interested in electric vehicles and autonomous vehicle trends. As each of the OEMs are moving towards this trend, I am concerned about consumer safety and environmental impact. I work in Quality so these topics are part of my daily routine. Many companies are committing to clean energy. I am interested in how the disposal of the EV batteries will be handled. I am also interested in the overall safety and risks associated with phantom images in autonomous vehicles that have been causing many vehicles to stop inexplicably and instantly. I think that both technologies are great steppingstones into the future of automotive, but I am continuing to observe the progression on the quality of these technologies. 

 

What are your predictions for the automotive industry in 2023? 

2023 is shaping up to be a very fun year for automotive and technology as a whole. We are now officially apart of Industry 4.0 with the interaction of technology and people. I think that there will be more app. based vehicle functionality. This will put the end item customers in more control of their vehicles, their options, and services. I think that the automotive industry has finally done a full recovery from the 2020 pandemic impact. 

 

Who is your inspirational woman?  

Personally, that person would be my aunt June. She is the personification of resilience and charity. She grew up like me with a difficult childhood but managed to turn herself and her situation around to become a successful business owner. She helped everyone in her family and community along the way. She is a lifelong learner and at seventy-six she continues to take online classes! I aspire to be as vibrant and full of life as she is when I am in my seventies.  

Professionally, I am inspired by Lisa Su, CEO of AMD. Lisa comes from humble beginnings and worked her way through the ranks of another predominantly male industry. She successfully transformed AMD and positioned the company to withstand the shift that impacted several of their competitors. Her leadership style of motivating and inspiring her team has kept AMD as a leader in the industry. I started following her career in the mid 2000’s while researching women CEOs and I have been fascinated and inspired by her ever since.  

 

What is your proudest career moment?   

I have been a part of multiple company startups. I am most proud of the progress and growth of the team of people who worked for me during my last startup. The company literally started with twenty-five hourly employees in 2012. Since then, many of the employees that I have coached and mentored have gone on to become engineers, supervisors, and managers. It fills my heart to know that I have had a positive influence on them going after their goals and achieving them.

  

What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome?  

The biggest challenge I have had to overcome is trying to prove that I belong. Many times, I have overworked myself that I am capable and that I can handle the job. This has led to a lot of long days and sleepless nights. I’ve learned that my body of work speaks for itself and that if I do the work that I am responsible for, it is enough. This was a very hard lesson learned and many managers took advantage of me, however, I now understand and know my worth.  

What was your first car?  

My first car was a 1981 Chevrolet Chevette. My uncle gave it to me in high school. It had a hole in the passenger side floor. I had to put a piece of wood and rug on the floor to cover up the hole.  

What advice would you offer to those considering starting a career within the automotive industry? 

I would tell anyone considering a role in the automotive industry to GO FOR IT! This is a fun and exciting industry. There are so many opportunities to work in different disciplines. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but the reward is so filling. I am amazed by the number of times a vehicle passes me and I say “I had a role in that vehicle being on the road.” 

In a word, what is the opportunity for women in automotive currently?  

“Endless!” 

  

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