Friday, July 15, 2016

Highest Ranking Black Female Car Designer Reflects On What It Meant To Work Under Pioneer Designer Ed Welburn

Crystal Windham currently serves as director of design for Cadillac interiors. Windham is the first black female to hold the title and the highest ranking black female in the auto industry.  
For our one-year anniversary show, honoring pioneer designer Ed Welburn, who spent 44 years as a designer of General Motors, we reached out to a few individuals who were mentored by the trendsetter. Welburn was the highest ranking black auto executive in the industry before his retirement on July 1. To find out more about Welburn and our radio interview, which airs Saturdays this month, click here.

What has it meant to have Ed Welburn as your design leader?

CW: As the global head of all GM Design, he shows us as an organization how to respect each other’s aesthetic differences, how to collaborate, and remain open minded in ways that elevate the vehicles we create. Over my nearly two decades at GM Design, I have seen the impact of his leadership – how as a team we strive to emulate his noble qualities, unleash the passion and enthusiasm we share for design, promote diversity, and create award-winning designs for years to come.

Tell one thing Welburn did or said that was life altering or had a huge impact on you. This could be as a designer or outside of design.

CW: Throughout my years at GM Design, I have reached many a crossroads in my career.  Each time, Ed has been instrumental in helping me to select the best way forward. When I think about the many conversations we’ve had during this time what stands out is his remarkable ability to help designers like myself thoroughly evaluate each opportunity – asking thought-provoking, open-ended questions that permit honest reflection and solid short- and long-term decision making.

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