Fair   34.0F  |  Forecast »
Edit Module

GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant Manager, Mom Doneen McDowell

Aside from spending time with her three daughters, Doneen McDowell works a full time job at General Motors. She shares her success story of finding work-life balance.

When Doneen McDowell of Rochester was promoted 14 years ago to a high-level position at General Motors, she was six weeks pregnant – and nobody knew. A great opportunity for growth, the position also carried with it a significant increase in responsibilities. She grappled with whether to stay home upon the birth of her first child or to continue working.

As her due date drew near, McDowell received some perspective from a female executive, herself a mom of two, who sensed McDowell's panic.

Doneen McDowell

"She asked me what I was thinking and what I wanted to do," McDowell recalls. "She told me I was good at what I did, and she encouraged me to think long-term about how I could partner with my husband to make this working-mom thing work."

This encouragement, coupled with the security in knowing that, by working, she could save for her kids' college, helped McDowell return to work after Rachel was born. Two additional daughters later, she's risen up the ranks and is now manager of GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, where the Chevrolet Volt, Impala and Malibu are assembled – and where Cadillac's first electric vehicle, the ELR, will soon be as well.

McDowell is out the door and off to work by 5:30 a.m. Monday-Friday and attempts to leave work by 5 p.m., though it's not always possible given the demands of overseeing a facility that employs 1,600 people.

Still, mom makes it a priority to be involved in at least one activity close to her daughters' hearts. She coaches Rachel's summer basketball team. For her middle daughter, she teaches religious ed class and attends twice-weekly soccer practices. And she's planning the class holiday party for her preschooler.

Tips for Working Moms

Her husband's job offers more flexibility, so he drops the kids off and picks them up from school most days – and is the first point of contact if they fall sick at school. But as McDowell says, "If I have to go, I go. We have capable people who can step in."

As for child care, the McDowells relied on a nanny.

"That was perhaps the biggest challenge for me of being a working mom. Finding someone you trust to come into your home to watch your children, especially when they are so young, is very difficult. I interviewed nannies like I do people on the job. Harder, actually."

Now, with all of her girls in school full time, McDowell doesn't need as much child care – but the logistics of busy schedules are more daunting.

"It's critical to us that we don't disadvantage our kids because we both work. We want them to experience everything, so they can find their passions in life." That sometimes means McDowell leaves work a little early to get her daughters to and fro or be at a special event.

"I follow the 80/20 rule," she says. "If people can do it 80 percent as good as I can, let them. Empower the people around you, so you can focus your energy in other areas."

Today, McDowell is paying forward the advice of her former mentor. She mentors five people at GM, four of whom are women.

"I probably spend 15 percent of my time mentoring," she says. She is also proud to use her platform to help women in the community understand the manufacturing opportunities.

"I want young ladies to know that they can work in engineering and manufacturing and have a family," she says. McDowell is proof.

Meet three other metro Detroit moms who share their work-life balance success stories:

           

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Holiday Ham Recipes

Holiday Ham Recipes

Still looking for some ideas for your big holiday dinner? This year, try a new recipe for your Christmas ham – thanks to these ideas from Taste of Home, Pillsbury and more.

Hanukkah Crafts for Kids: Holiday Picture Frame

Hanukkah Crafts for Kids: Holiday Picture Frame

If you're celebrating the holiday and looking for quick and easy crafts for kids, this fun and affordable little keepsake is a great way to display family memories.

Dad Gets Unexpected Reaction to Terrible Christmas Gifts

Dad Gets Unexpected Reaction to Terrible Christmas Gifts

British dad pranks his kids with bad Christmas presents, but didn't get the reaction he was expecting – and it's pretty sweet.

Simple Holiday Family Crafts to Make with On-Hand Material

Simple Holiday Family Crafts to Make with On-Hand Material

Does your family have paper cups, Legos, plastic spoons or toilet-paper rolls lying around? Transform them into angels, snowmen and even a chimney for Santa!

Bath Time Safety Tips for Babies and Toddlers

Bath Time Safety Tips for Babies and Toddlers

What's the best way to bathe your child? How can you keep them safe in the tub? A pediatric doctor at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit has tips.

Snowman Dessert Recipes: Tasty and Cute Ideas

Snowman Dessert Recipes: Tasty and Cute Ideas

Who doesn't love Frosty the Snowman? Kids will enjoy making – and eating! – some of these adorable and delicious snowman recipes.

Holiday Stamping Favorite Supplies from Stampin' Up

Holiday Stamping Favorite Supplies from Stampin' Up

Crafty company Stampin' Up offers a variety of fun stampers, punches and paper that transform into cool gift tags, cards and other fun DIY projects.

Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module
Advertisement