Padmasree Warrior, Fan Favorite

One of the Greatest Contributions to the Future of Cars
January 3 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Equal to the Task

Here’s a story that will let the air out of your tires: Henry Ford—you know, the Ford guy—shook things up by hiring women to work at his Phoenix Mill plant in Michigan in the early 1900s. Pretty cool, right? But here’s the catch: Women’s employment eligibility at Ford was based on their marital status, with Ford only hiring widows and single ladies. Why? He considered the gig to be a temporary one for women because he was adamant that a woman’s real job in life was to “get married, have a home and raise a family.” While Ford did pay his female workers the same as men, it was solely so they could dress attractively and afford to get married.


If you’re a fan of car racing, you’re probably familiar with grid girls, those scantily clad ladies seemingly tasked with little else than looking sexy on the sidelines of some of the most prominent racing events. Thankfully, the preeminent racing organization in the world is finally taking a stand against such misogyny. Formula 1, which has employed grid girls for decades, announced that beginning with its 2018 season, it will no longer use grid girls, citing that the custom no longer resonates with F1’s values or modern societal norms. As one car-industry publication noted, it’s “about freaking time!”

WOMAN TO WATCH: Padmasree Warrior, Former CEO of NIO U.S.

Today’s Woman to Watch, Padmasree Warrior, was a commanding change in the contemporary auto biz. She recently stepped down as CEO of NIO U.S., which is driven by the vision to bring autonomous vehicles to the American market by 2020.

This dynamic CEO, who has a leadership history with innovative brands like Spotify, Microsoft and Cisco, has masterfully earned her rank as one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. At NIO, she employed that mastery to change the way Americans view our daily commutes.

Dubbed “the autonomous car of the future,” NIO’s Eve concept vehicle is a super-smart, highly communicative, immaculately designed car unlike any other. But this is hardly NIO’s first success in the automotive realm.

Americans spend more than 290 hours a year commuting via car. Imagine the convenience of your self-driving NIO Eve getting you home from the office while you focus on other tasks, like answering emails or discovering star constellations through Eve’s glass-roof interface—all while kicking back in the spacious and flexible seating environment.

Padmasree notes something even more significant to the emergence of this one-of-a-kind vehicle: safety. She calls today’s cars an “epidemic,” citing more than 37,000 deaths on the road each year in the U.S., all because distractions and inexperienced driving produce devastating results. It’s Padmasree’s hope that the autonomous vehicle is the solution to this problem.

Many other companies are taking a page out of Padmasree’s book to drive forth the futuristic car. CEO of auto giant General Motors, Mary Barra, recently made headlines when she made the decision to close down multiple GM plants nationwide, a calculated step to eventually help transition the company into production of electric cars only.

When Padmasree reflected on her time at NIO and her decision to leave, she said something that stuck with me: Find your next role when you’re kicking butt in your current role. It takes a big person to recognize that she has accomplished what she set out to do. We’re excited to see where she’s headed to next, but we’re grateful she contributed to the future of cars in such a meaningful way.


With Padmasree Warrior and NIO in mind, today’s quote comes from the co-founder of fashion-tech company Poshmark, Tracy Sun, who said:

“Love what you do and do what you love. Doing something new and different requires a level of drive and passion that is really hard to fake. When your heart is behind what you are doing, so much is possible.”

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