Laura Burek Ford Motor Company Core Voice Control Technology Engineer>

Laura Burek dreamed of working for Ford Motor Company as a little girl. Her father worked for the “Blue Oval” for 30 years. Her grandparents did too. Way back then, she probably never dreamed she’d be a Core Voice Control Technology Engineer traveling the globe to make a car more easily recognize voice commands.

In her current role, Burek works on Ford SYNC, a system that allows users to make hands-free telephone calls and control music and other functions using voice commands. She specializes in fine-tuning features of the voice-recognition system, including design, implementation, integration, and validating.

HerHighway’s Editor in Chief Christina Selter sat down with Laura in Southern California for a one on one interview regarding how the automotive industry has opportunities for women and why it is so important for women to seek a career in automotive. The video is coming soon, but for now enjoy some of the Q&A below.

Who have you mentored who did someone mentor you in this industry to help you get started?
I have had a few mentors here at Ford, my first one was the Chief engineer of Body and Security, Pat Cosenza at Ford, my second was Brigitte Richardson who has taught me a lot about Voice Recognition (which is my current position), and my third mentor was Mark Porter.  However, outside of work my parents are my one number mentors.

As a woman what features are your favorites in a car?
My favorite feature in a vehicle would have to be the sound system.

Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for females?
I think its due to society.

Why did you want to work in the auto industry?
Because I wanted to follow in my fathers and grandfathers foot steps.

First automotive job?
My first automotive job was Ford Motor Company.  I got hired right out of college into the Ford College Graduate program which rotated me around to 5 different areas within the company for the first 32 months.

Proudest professional achievement?
My proudest professional achievement would have to be when I received the Technical Maturity Award while I was in the Ford College Graduate program.

Current challenge at work?
Since Ford has gone global the main challenge has been developing and validating a feature that is consistent throughout all the countries and for 17 different languages.

Dream job?
My dream job is becoming a Chief Engineer, but outside of automotive and if I could have any job it would have to be painting art.

What sports or activities did you enjoy in school or/and currently?
While in school (high school) was on the swim team as well as the downhill ski team.  While I was in college I still enjoy downhill skiing and currently am the assistant coach for my high school ski team.

What you do to relax?
The way I relax is by either painting, working out, or spending time with family and friends.