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"Why We Do What We Do" Featuring Sue Rokosz

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?

Sue Rokosz has spent her entire career at Ford, beginning with a position in the research lab, where she met her late husband, Michael. From there, she moved to the Environmental Quality Office, and continues to work with Ford’s manufacturing plants globally on environmental matters. “In August 2016, I will celebrate my 35-year anniversary with Ford,” Rokosz says. “I have greatly enjoyed my career at Ford, especially the opportunity to see how sustainability has become embedded in the company’s core business processes.”

Rokosz has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s in chemical engineering, both from Wayne State University. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan.

“Outside of work, I am passionate about promoting the auto industry as a great place for women to work, serving on the board of directors of the Automotive Women’s Alliance Foundation,” she says. “I am also a member of Inforum and participate in their AutomotiveNEXT group. On a personal level, I’m very proud of my 23-year-old daughter, Aleksandra.”

As our interview series continues, Rokosz, who co-chairs AIAG’s Environmental Sustainability Advisory Group, shares her perspective on why very busy people find fulfillment in volunteering.

AIAG: What are your current role and responsibilities?

Rokosz: I work in the Global Environmental Policy group within Ford’s Environmental Quality Office. This group is responsible for establishing and communicating global regulatory policy, as well as managing compliance and conservation programs. My responsibilities include community right-to-know and chemical reporting (such as US Toxic Release Inventory), public environmental reporting (including Ford’s annual Sustainability Report, CDP, etc.), and ensuring integration of manufacturing environmental matters into Ford’s business plan review meetings. I also work closely with Ford Communications to ensure that Ford’s environmental strategies, targets, and accomplishments are communicated effectively to the public.  

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

Rokosz: Our interest in benchmarking environmental metrics and practices within the auto industry evolved into my participation and co-chairmanship of the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Group. I also serve on the Corporate Responsibility Event Planning Committee, the group responsible for the annual AIAG Corporate Responsibility Summit. The AIAG CR Summit is a great way to learn about the latest developments in sustainability.

AIAG: Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who affected your sustainability journey, and how.

Rokosz: The late Dr. Ralph Kummler, dean of the College of Engineering at Wayne State University, has been a great influence on my sustainability journey. Dr. Kummler was my advisor in graduate school, and my master’s project was computer modelling of combined sewer overflow into the Detroit River. Dr. Kummler was ahead of his time in recognizing the importance of environmental stewardship.

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

Rokosz: Treat others as you would like to be treated.

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

Rokosz: Ford was recognized as an A- list leader in the 2015 CDP Water Report. This external recognition of the water stewardship efforts of the entire Ford team is very gratifying. And 2016 was the seventh consecutive year that Ford was recognized by Ethisphere Institute as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies, the only automaker to be so recognized. I am very proud to be a Ford employee!

More Stories to Come

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 Beverly Sturtevant at beverlys@arion-media.com.