Telva McGruder’s career at General Motors spans 20+ years. Having started as an electrical engineer, she has worked her way up through the ranks and took on a wide variety of jobs before becoming the director of Global Facilities Engineering and Manufacturing Operations within the sustainable workplaces team at General Motors (GM). Her team, focuses on everything facilities and environmentally related as well as real estate for the company, which includes working with a team of architects, civil engineers and structural engineers to build buildings. “My team does all the engineering for the construction of new buildings for the company [including] paint shops, body shops, office buildings, etc. We remodel the interiors of buildings and we change manufacturing buildings so we can produce new products.” McGruder excitedly stated.
Rolling out caught up with the dynamic leader to hear more of her story and how she helps GM attract talent in STEM fields.
How do you attract young people interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) occupations?
One of the things I love about GM is that we spend a lot of time thinking about how we’re going to invest in people. One program I volunteer with is called “A World in Motion”, which is in partnership with the Society of Automotive Engineers. With this program, we have hundreds of volunteers throughout the country that go into urban classrooms and give students design challenges. We spend six to eight weeks with them in the classroom and have them build boats out of paper, so they’re learning about recycling, dynamics, friction and all of that. We also engage in robotics teams and we have a partnership with “Girls Who Code”. Now, we’re attracting many female engineers and leaders. So, lots of different ways we get kids involved in STEM and STEAM.
How does GMAAN fit into those efforts?
One of the most important things we do [to attract talent] is GMAAN (General Motors African Ancestry Network). I’m the president of GMAAN, and we have a STEAM component in our community service pillar. In that component, we participate in and support organizations such as DAPCEP (Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering classes), and Big Brothers, Big Sisters. One of the things I’m doing as the new president is trying to increase the number of members that are actively engaging with students so we can work on developing our pipeline more robustly from an African Ancestry perspective.
How do you manage work-life-balance?
I’m married with three children, and I’m also a martial artist. I don’t necessarily see work and life as different. When I’m at work, I’m primarily working, and when I’m at home, I’m primarily at home. But I try to have enough focus and discipline so that I structure my life to do the things that I’m passionate about.
I have to be adaptable too. So, if all of a sudden, one of the kids call, and we have unexpected things come up, then we adjust to that, and I don’t feel guilty about it because they’re certainly what’s most important.
Also, I have to give myself my time. I need my time to pray in the morning and to meditate. When I don’t do those things, my day doesn’t go that well. Then the last thing I do is practice. At night, I try to practice martial arts at least three days a week.