Two Lucky Moves, One Amazing Career.
Despite growing up an hour outside of Detroit, Liz Curran never thought she’d end up in automotive. “I went to school for fashion design,” says this 20-year veteran. “I didn’t even know color & trim existed.” So how does a fashionista end up running a design division at a major automaker? That’s Lucky Move #1.
“When I was in school, I learned a computer program called Euphoria,” she begins. “When I graduated, I sent my resume to the company that made Euphoria. A while later, General Motors went to them saying that they needed someone to run the program. And that’s how I got into the business.” Sending your resume to a software company after college? OK, maybe it was less of a lucky move and more of a brilliant idea.
Surely Her Car-Loving Family Embraced Her New-Found Career, Right? Wrong.
“They couldn’t believe I wasn’t working for Chrysler.” Between her uncle, a longtime Chrysler employee, and the fact that home was just a stone’s throw away from the Chrysler proving grounds, GM seemed like an odd career choice. Things got a bit more heated 10 years later when she accepted a position with Korean automaker Hyundai. “Everyone said, ‘Woah, she’s a real risk taker, working for a foreign brand,’” Liz recalls. But this was not just any foreign brand at any time. Liz jumped aboard Hyundai just before they launched their game changing vehicle, the Sonata. Enter Lucky Move #2.
Though she knew the Sonata would make news, Liz was really shocked as she found her friends and former co-workers sniffing around the Hyundai booth at the Detroit Auto Show. It was then she knew that this brand was about to take off. Now, almost a decade later, Liz is the Manager of color & trim for Hyundai, which last year celebrated its 7th year of record sales.
How Does a Young Mother of Three Manage a Career Like This?
These days, Liz works at the North American Design Studio in Irvine, California, a long way from her Michigan roots. The biggest adjustment? Travel. Because Hyundai is based in Korea, she spends a lot of time on the road. So how does this mother of three handle it all? “My husband is incredibly supportive, so that really helps.”
As a mother, Liz finds herself being very critical of the group’s overall design “Ingress vs egress is important to me as a mom. I mean, how am I going to take my kid out of that car?’” Amen to that! Liz’s passion for her work is obvious when asked what makes her interior finishes stand out against the competition. “We’re always trying to push a luxury feel. Yet we want to remain practical.”
In the End, it All Comes Back To Fashion
When asked what advice she’d give to car shoppers, Liz’s response shows she hasn’t forgotten her passion for fashion. “I’d like to see more people ORDERING their cars.” Really? “We have so many great options; make sure you get what you want. Then when it arrives, make it an event. Get dressed up, have them put a bow on it and really celebrate.” Now that’s an idea we can all get behind!