The 19-year General Motors Corp. veteran hit the ground running.
Ms. Hutchinson, 37, who is responsible for Saturn's $200 million-plus ad budget, says she has made some small changes in the way Saturn marketing teams are organized and how it develops communications.
Her first hurdle at Saturn was the October launch of the three-door SC1 and SC2 coupe models. Working with Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, she and her teams used simple, split-30 second commercials depicting a boy playing a tuba.
She says the spots broke through the clutter and helped boost Saturn's coupe sales by about 20% in the last two months. Now she's getting ready for Saturn's second owner reunion this summer.
Ms. Hutchinson faces an important marketing challenge this year when Saturn enters the midsize car segment this summer. General awareness will have to be extended to include prospects who have wanted to buy Saturn but couldn't because they needed a bigger car.
She cites her good listening and communicating abilities as keys to her success at GM, where she started in 1980 as a co-op student at General Motors Institute. After graduating in 1984, Ms. Hutchinson became a product planning analyst but switched to product research after getting her M.B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1988.
She helped introduce GM's brand management concept in Europe and oversaw all of its research there. Today, research is just one of six areas reporting to her at Saturn.
At GM, she hasn't seen a glass ceiling, explaining the auto giant promotes people on their abilities. Her advice to younger women wanting to succeed in marketing is to "just do the best job you can and don't get caught up in gender issues."