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Why We Do What We Do: Brenda Baney


We’ve all heard it said: Volunteering for your industry is one of the most important and most needed acts a professional will ever do. But in today’s increasingly challenging global climate, finding time is harder than ever. So why do people make the extra effort required to do it?

Brenda Baney was the product stewardship manager at Delphi and has been involved with environmental topics since 1992. She joined General Motors in 1984 as a materials engineer at its automotive electronics division. In that role, Brenda led internal company projects on elimination of CFCs, lead solder, hexavalent chromium, and a myriad of other substances of concern. Under her tenure, Delphi successfully reported complex material compliance data on hundreds of thousands of parts, and my cross-functional Conflict Minerals team led Delphi to be named as the No. 1 Automotive Component Supplier for 2014 per the 2015 Assent Conflict Minerals rating.

Baney has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri; a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis; and an MBA from Indiana University.

As our interview series continues, Baney shares her perspective on why very busy people find fulfillment in volunteering.

AIAG: What is your current role?

Baney: I’m launching a product stewardship consulting business based on proven strategies and processes for addressing product chemical compliance. I plan to leverage my knowledge of automotive and electronics materials and environmental legislation and offer a part-time compliance helpdesk as well as overall company assessments.

AIAG: How did your work evolve into your involvement with AIAG’s corporate responsibility team?

Baney: I joined my corporate colleague as an electronics expert and have been actively involved in AIAG activities since 2002. As chair of the Chemical Reporting Workgroup, I work with the CR team to obtain critical volunteer assets and highlight best practices from OEMs and the supply chain to support the Corporate Responsibility team.

AIAG: Tell us about someone who affected your sustainability journey, and how.

Baney: Early in the ELV journey, I had the opportunity to work with a lot of global assets within Delphi. Wolfgang Diegmann, from our Packard Germany technical center, and I had many discussions about the best way to integrate electronics into the new automotive material reporting system — IMDS. Within a very collaborative team effort, we could argue all day and still enjoy the group dinner afterward.

AIAG: What is the best advice you have ever received?

Baney: My first boss and I were the materials engineering group at Delco Electronics and when he took two weeks of vacation I would stress, thinking I wouldn’t be able to provide the best support. He told me, “Just relax, it’s only car parts.”

AIAG: Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of?

Baney: Being able to represent AIAG as one of the technical bridges to the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) is a privilege. As automotive is consistently called out within the group and publicly as good partners in the Conflict Minerals efforts, it is satisfying to be able to contribute in this space.

"Suppliers' benefits are derived from understanding how their competitors and their customers address the same issues while collaborating to achieve best practices in a non-competitive environment, namely the environment,” Baney explains. “While we all want to save the planet, we must also anticipate risks from future chemical legislation and resource scarcity. The best way to accomplish that is to work together.”

In the future, we’ll hear more of what our most passionate volunteers have to say. Do you know someone who has been an excellent role model? Email Thomas Marcetti at Thomasm@arion-media.com.