Rossella Olivito
MichAuto > Rossella Olivito

Rossella Olivito

Industrial Engineer Methods Lead, North America, Brose

Automotive and mobility careers offer innovative thinking, diverse opportunities, and the ability to change the world. Connect with young automotive professionals to learn more about different career opportunities and where you could make an impact on global issues through the automotive and mobility industry.

Getting into Automotive

What inspired you to go into the automotive and mobility field?

The wide range of opportunities this world has to offer.

Did you grow up with family members in the automotive industry?

No, my mom is a teacher, and my dad works for an insurance company.

What interests led you to consider a career in automotive?

Since I was a girl, I have always been interested in understanding how things work and even if at the time I didn’t know which industry I wanted to be in, I definitely knew I wanted to be an engineer.

When were you first exposed to automotive?

When I was in school in Italy, we started talking about how the automotive world works and that’s when I realized how big the industry is.

Growing up, what was your first impression of the automotive industry? How would you have described the industry?

As I grew up in Italy, I didn’t really know too much about it, but I’m definitely glad that changed!

What college did you attend, what was your major, and why did you choose that path?

I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Engineering (Italy) and a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering (USA). I chose this path strategically to end up where I am right now. It wasn’t easy but totally worth it. I felt the computer science background would give me a good foundation for thinking logically and Industrial Engineering would allow me to understand how to apply logical thinking to whichever industry.

If you made any changes (switched majors, schools, etc.) during college, please explain.

After I completed my bachelor’s degree in Italy, I started a Master’s degree equivalent in Automation Engineering. After a year, however, I realized this degree was not giving me the skills I was wishing for, and I, therefore, started investigating “which degree do I need to do what I want to do?”. After lots of research, I figured out I had to move to the U.S. and try to study here. In 3 months, I dropped out of school, submitted all my documents to the University I wanted to attend to get accepted, which I did, got a VISA, and moved!

Do you have additional degrees, training, or education? (I.e., graduate degree, MBA, etc.)

I have a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering degree from Lawrence Technological University.

Automotive Career: Then and Now

What opportunities did you have in college that allowed you to explore or start your career in automotive, including any co-ops or internships?

During my second year at Lawrence Tech, I applied to many companies to start an internship and I was hired by Brose in February of 2017.

What was your first job post-college? Please share any lessons learned.

My first job was at Brose as an Industrial Engineer intern. My lesson learned is to not be afraid to voice your opinion or to ask “stupid” questions. Learn as much as you can! The effort you put in your internship will be the key to get hired in a stable position.

How did you transition from your first job to where you are now? What roles did you hold along the way? What projects or opportunities were critical in this process?

Even if my internship was supposed to last until December of 2017, I got a full-time offer in August and switched to my current position in September 2017. The first set of training I had to lead was critical to understand if I was cut for this role. I liked it so much that now I always fantasize I’d like to become a University Professor one day. I truly love learning new things and sharing what I know with the IEs that come to attend my classes.

Have you made any major career changes? If so, please explain your thoughts and reasoning.

I never left this role even if I have been proposed multiple role changes that would also imply a higher pay. I declined because I still believe that we should do what we love and not just try to get on top at all costs. I love the motto that says, “work to live and don’t live to work.”

What is your role now?

I am the industrial engineer methods lead for North America.

What projects and programs do you work on?

My job consists in ensuring the accuracy and optimization of all equipment and process planning tools, forms, trainings, methods, and standards the Industrial Engineers have to use. I am also the President of the Multicultural Employee Resource Group, where we fight to end racism and create more understanding of the different cultures.

Describe a typical day.

During a normal day, I usually spend most of my time answering emails and phone calls, usually questions on any of the topics I am the trainer or key user for. Few times a year I spend entire weeks training IEs.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I don’t know. My goal at this point is to continue to do a job that I enjoy doing whether it is the same role I am doing now or a new opportunity that might be proposed to me in the future.

Advice for Young Students

Knowing what you know now if you could give your younger self one tip or piece of advice, what would it be?

Be confident in what you know and be humble in the things you’re not sure about. Ask all the questions!

What advice do you have for high school students who are interested in automotive, but unsure if it’s the career for them?

My main problem was I had nobody to talk to in the automotive world to understand whether and which career I would have enjoyed. Try to think about what interests you and keep in mind your goal is to do a job you enjoy. Fight for your dreams, they won’t be served on a silver plate.

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

“Different people have to be dealt with in a different way.”

What do you love about working in the automotive industry (and specifically the automotive industry in Michigan)?

You get to be part of what the future will look like. We are the ones that invent all the cool gadgets. The hands-free liftgate? My company did it first!

Do you participate in any organizations outside of work? Or have any hobbies (unrelated to automotive)? Do you feel the work-life balance in the auto industry allows you to continue these passions?

I do have hobbies! I play the piano and I picked up the violin during the pandemic since I always wanted to learn. Our work-life balance is optimal. I have never had to work on a holiday so far, so that’s great!!