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Senior Manager, Global Benefits
Auburn Hills, Mich.
Eighteen years into her position, Michelle DuFour is responsible for management and strategy development for international health and welfare, wellness, disability and retirement plans for BorgWarner Inc.'s 18,000 employees, including 4,000 U.S. employees and 5,000 U.S. retirees. She manages a direct team of four human resources specialists and collaborates with an indirect team of six shared services specialists across company plant locations. She's known for her ability to work effectively with line supervisors, union leaders and executive management. Among her achievements, she helped her company realize a decrease of 4% to an increase of 2%—deemed minimal in today's health care arena—in health care costs, with a majority of employees paying nothing toward their health plan premiums.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
Ask people who do this type of work for an informational interview; it helps you narrow in on what skills are most marketable, and you'll get new ideas that are helpful as responsibilities increase. Communicate and prepare early. In this field, you only have an opportunity a few times a year to make significant change. Become really good at multitasking. Think strategically; your success in this field is typically measured by cost containment, and you'll only have cost containment if you can get others to participate in your vision.
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU'VE LEARNED IN YOUR CAREER?
Share your passion with others; honest and open communication creates buy-in. Trying something new is OK, even if it doesn't work out, because very few bad ideas can't be undone.
DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR EARLY IN YOUR CAREER?
When I first started my career, I worked for a successful woman in the brokerage industry. Generally, this industry was dominated by men. However, she taught me that if you speak confidently, stand up for what you believe in and don't take yourself too seriously, your hard work will get noticed.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB, OUTSIDE OF YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
Scuba charter captain in the eastern Caribbean.
OUTSIDE OF FAMILY AND COLLEAGUES, WHOM DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?
Single moms who are able to balance career and family.
WHAT'S YOUR CAN'T-MISS TV SHOW?
I am hooked on “Boardwalk Empire.” It's an interesting time in the history of our country and very well done. For a laugh, I love to watch “Modern Family,” great writing and in line with what many families looks like today.
BEYOND WORK, WHAT ONE THING DO YOU WANT TO DO OR ACCOMPLISH IN LIFE?
Take better care of myself so I can raise my son and see him develop his own career and family.
DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA? IF NOT, WHY NOT?
I use Facebook strictly for my social life. It's a great way to keep up with friends and family. I use LinkedIn to network with other business professionals.