Shawn Thompson of Ford: Example of an outstanding leader
Ford Motor Company’s Shawn Thompson’s gregariousness, effervescence and open managerial style are the attributes that make it ideal for her to attend and maximize opportunities at the crème de la crème of annual urban events, such as the Tom Joyner Cruise, the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans and the ultra-popular Steve Harvey Hoodie Awards in Las Vegas. Her disarming personality enables her to procure a large sampling of opinions from a cross-section of people about the products she markets to diverse demographics.
How have you been able to create success in the marketing field?
I really do like getting out there. Some executives don’t like getting out there and mingling with the people. You know I’m not like that … I like it when people approach me, and tell me what [they] think of the vehicles, tell me what [they] think of Ford. And just getting the message out there helps. And I’m a real person. I have a position at Ford, but I also recognize where I came from. I like to be approachable. Come talk to me.
What is your leadership style?
I just like to make myself approachable whether I’m on a plane … or “hey, this is my third trip [on the Tom Joyner Cruise] and I’m coming back.” Or, if I’m walking through the cruise ship and people are saying “I’m glad you’re coming back, Shawn. Remember me from last year?” or “I bought an Explorer or an F-150.” I just like making myself accessible to them. Now, that goes both ways, “you know, my vehicle broke down.” So, nothing is perfect. So what can I do to assist you? It’s like, I don’t want to forget where I came from, and I just want them to be able to talk to me.
What is your definition of a powerful woman?
I think that would be someone who is a [real] woman. I’m a single mom. I have a son that I adopted. And when I’m away, he knows that [I’m] doing something to help us. And when I return home, he’ll say, “well, mom I saw you on TV and I saw your picture,” and it lights my face up because he knows that I’m doing it for both of us.
Being a jet-setter with a family, how are you able to maintain balance?
I think to be powerful that you have to keep in mind what is important. First is your family, then your career, and then everything else will just fall into place. I hope that I’m an example out there of that. You might be a single mom, you may not have finished school, but you can be successful and you can be powerful.
We were able to use the poem, “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” to talk about the breakthrough with the Ford Fusion … totally brand-new design. The poem talks about how a rose is able to break through the concrete and how we are able to break through with our design. And that’s how we were able to relate the two.