CHANTEL LENARD: NEW CHALLENGES, BRINGING CUSTOMERS’ VOICE TO LIFE
group marketing manager, Global Small and Midsize Cars
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- Chantel Lenard is group marketing manager for global small and midsize cars; she helps bring vehicles such as the next-generation Ford Focus from inception to launch and further brings to life the customer’s voice
- Lenard loves the complexity and challenges of the auto industry, but she especially enjoys the passion consumers feel for their vehicles
- Lenard, a wife, mother and multi-tasker, with degrees from two prestigious universities, relishes the opportunity of creating new advocates for Ford
Chantel Lenard is not one to back down from a challenge. She’s a wife and mother of two young girls. She holds degrees from both Purdue and Harvard and, yes, she did bungee jump into a New Zealand river gorge on vacation once.
For Lenard, group marketing manager for global small and midsize cars, her latest assignment was a challenge all its own – bringing the customer’s voice to life as she helped develop the vehicle and marketing strategies for the next-generation Ford Focus
“For many years, small cars were a vehicle choice driven mainly by affordability,” Lenard said. “What we’re seeing now is a shift to small cars as a vehicle of preference – from ‘What I have to drive’ to ‘What I want to drive’.”
That shift in choice is actually a shift in attitude, she said.
“Customers told us ‘small’ shouldn’t mean ‘sacrifice’,” Lenard explained. “Head-turning style, spirited driving dynamics and advanced technologies, previously found only on larger, more expensive cars, are the new expectations of small car buyers. These expectations were front and center as we developed the next-generation Focus.”
By the end of 2011, Lenard will have overseen the launch of the Ford Fiesta, next-generation Focus and the seven-passenger Focus C-MAX. She also will oversee the launch in 2011 of the Focus Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), the first zero-emission battery electric passenger car from Ford. It’s a challenge, but she’s up for it.
“We have a lot to do during the next two years,” Lenard said. “It’s an exciting and fun opportunity and one my team feels privileged to have. Innovative products inspire innovative marketing, making this a dream job for an automotive marketer.”
The road to Focus
Lenard first came to Ford in 1992 and has held a variety of roles in purchasing, finance, strategy, marketing and sales. Other positions include Ford SUV group brand manager and large car/crossover product marketing and strategy manager.
Lenard earned her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University and later took a leave of absence from Ford to pursue her MBA at Harvard University. While there, she realized how much she enjoyed and missed the automotive industry.
“We went through more than 1,600 cases and companies, and there was no other industry that piqued my interest as much as automotive,” she said. “The complexity, the challenges and the large-scale impact on our national economy were all things that drew me back. But the biggest draw was the product. Few products evoke as much emotion and passion from consumers.”
Lenard said she recently has heard more positive comments about Ford.
“My personal favorite is, ‘I’ve never considered a Ford before, but I am considering one this time.’ That’s when you know you’ve done your job well – when we’ve delivered a compelling product, reached a new consumer, and turned him or her into an advocate for Ford. That’s what my job is all about.”
Personal Insights and Fun Facts
- On skiing vacations to the Rockies, Chantel has been known to tackle the Double-Black Diamond slopes. Double-Black Diamond slopes are by far the most difficult courses, extremely steep and often not groomed
- Chantel’s husband is a finance manager for Ford; they have two daughters, ages 7 and 5. She met her husband at Ford – they shared the same cubicle
- Chantel’s one-and-only bungee jump was years ago, in New Zealand. To ensure the length of the cord was correct, when the proprietors of the jump weighed her, she wrote her weight on her hand in permanent marker to make sure the guys down the line suiting her up wouldn’t make an error. “I’m not sure I’d do it now since I have children and more responsibilities … but it was fun”
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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 200,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com .
Jan. 11, 2010