Ms. Lenard, 34, says she believes in taking the reins to steer your own career since "too often you see folks with high expectations that their career paths will be mapped out for them."
She was exposed to the auto industry through her grandmother and grandfather, who worked at General Motors Corp.
The resume of the 1991 Purdue University grad includes: Thunderbird finance manager, Mercury Mountaineer and Villager brand manager, sport-utility vehicle group marketing manager at Ford Division and a manager in the global marketing unit.
While Ms. Lenard enjoyed her first two years at Ford in purchasing, she felt she needed more experience on the business side, so she took a leave. When she graduated with her MBA from Harvard in 1995 and returned to Ford, she requested more marketing exposure. Ford put her in its marketing leader program, where she met Jan Valentic, then ad chief of Ford Division. In 2001, Ms. Lenard worked for Ms. Valentic, who had risen to VP-global marketing.
Ms. Valentic, who left Ford a few months ago to join WPP Group's Young & Rubicam Brands, says Ms. Lenard was given the task of consolidating Ford's multiple databases and led all dealer education. "She has an attention to detail yet she's also able to get above the fray and not be a micromanager," Ms. Valentic says. Ms. Lenard also "helps people elevate their games and where they fit in the whole organization."
With a husband, who's a Ford finance manager, and daughter, Ms. Lenard balances not only family life, but activities including being Ford's lead recruiter in marketing, sales and service for the Harvard Business School.