JULIE LEVINE AND JULIE ROCCO: FORD EXPLORER ENGINEERS JOB-SHARE PROGRAM MANAGEMENT POSITION
Send a text message to either Julie Levine or Julie Rocco’s cell phone, and both phones will react simultaneously. They can finish each other’s sentences, while executing and enforcing an aggressive time line. As they rarely stop working to eat, both are known to nibble on snacks during protracted meetings.
Welcome to a shared job arrangement at the highest levels of automotive industry product program management. Levine and Rocco are both working mothers, yet career-driven professional engineers. An innovative Transitional Work Arrangement (TWA) allows them to balance Explorer program management, family and themselves.
“We’re both deeply appreciative of Ford’s approach – allowing us both to continue our career advancement, yet spend more family-centered time,” Rocco said. “TWA enables us to be committed to our families, to our Explorer team and to the company, by being committed to one another.”
These engineers view their shared job from similar, yet unique, perspectives.
“Our job is to act as the glue in bringing every aspect of the Explorer product program together, to achieve the right combination of content to meet our targets for customer satisfaction, business equation and timing,” said Levine. “This involves collaboration with engineering, the design studio, manufacturing, finance, marketing, public affairs, suppliers and others to make sure we are progressing toward our collective goals.”
Just as the “Julies” – as they are invariably called within the company – arrived at their shared position from far different perspectives, they cite their communication cadence as the linchpin in their effectiveness.
Rocco’s activism in the national honor society for engineering – during her undergraduate studies and as an alumnus – prepared her for time, people and project management and for leadership. A random connection at an engineering job fair brought Rocco, almost by chance, to Ford from her home in upstate New York.
Levine – by comparison – was seemingly preordained to join her father, uncle, brothers, sister, brother-in-law and her husband in working at Ford.
They are quick to remind onlookers that they share all job tasks, as opposed to splitting responsibilities. The upshot is consistency – on any issue or question – whether from Rocco on Mondays and Thursdays or Levine on Tuesdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, the Julies are both on-site.
Their weeknight “downloads” allow them to reliably react with one voice. Nightly phone calls from 9:15 to 10:30 enable them to review, balance and plan, and keep Levine and Rocco in sync.
“Both of us work diligently to support each other and the phenomenal team we represent,” said Rocco. “Our job share has helped us both to find balance in life, while increasing our effectiveness on the job.”
Each brings a unique experience to their shared responsibilities on Explorer.
Levine – an 18-year Ford veteran – spent most of her career working on trucks and SUVs, with eight years in chassis engineering and 10 years in program management. She contributed to 1998, 2002 and 2006 Explorer programs, in addition to her shared role for the next-generation model. Levine also worked on Ford Escape, Expedition, Mercury Mariner, Lincoln Navigator and Ford Ranger programs. She spent two years working on South American products such as EcoSport and Ka vehicle lines.
Rocco has divided her 15 years with Ford between body engineering, interior trim and Ford F-Series Super Dutyproduct program management positions. Time spent in body engineering helped Rocco see all aspects of a program come together, from initial concept through volume manufacturing.
Both agree their skill and experience sets complement one another. For example, Levine cites Rocco’s deeper understanding of body engineering and dealing with the design studio as fitting nicely with her own chassis engineering background and contacts.
“It expands our effective ‘wheelbase,’ as each of us brings different perspectives and working relationships to our shared job,” said Levine.
Levine graduated from the University of Michigan with both her BSME and MSME, while Rocco earned her BSME from Binghamton State University of New York (SUNY). Later, Rocco achieved her master’s in engineering management from the University of Michigan.
Both engineers take great pride in the next-generation Explorer.
“We all really believed in the concept of a stylish, capable, yet fuel-efficient SUV for the 21st century,” said Levine. “We looked at the lifespan of SUVs in general and Explorer in particular: What do customers like and value? What would they change about Explorer? How do these customers use their SUVs? As a team, we really dug in.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
- Rocco and her husband have accumulated almost 190,000 miles on their 1998 Explorer, while Levine and her husband share a classic 1966 Ford Mustang convertible
- Levine has two children, Rocco has one
- Both Julies are married to husbands working at Ford, Rocco meeting hers as they launched Expedition production together
- Levine and Rocco easily identify with Explorer customers and their families
- Both Julies are travel enthusiasts. Rocco enjoys hiking and is an avid gardener, while Levine is a skier and practices martial arts
- Levine comes from a veritable dynasty of past and present Ford employees, while Rocco is the only person in her family to join the auto industry
- Rocco has been very active in university alumni activities, helping to link the Binghamton SUNY engineering program with the automotive industry
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 176,000 employees and about 80 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln andMercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010
, and, until its sale, Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.
July 26, 2010