New Silverado Chief Engineer Hopes to Make Impact

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Can you imagine what it would be like to be in charge of the most important vehicle in the GM portfolio? Well, Sheri Hickok now knows, because she's the new chief engineer for the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, tentatively due out for the 2018 or 2019 model year.

According to Automotive News, Hickok's career is full of important engineering jobs (10 in the last 15 years), and she is well positioned to orchestrate, negotiate and navigate through changes suggested for the current Silverado and Sierra pickups from GM marketers, designers, chassis engineers, suppliers and others.

After assignments at GM corporate (as chief of staff for the global head of the engineering), Buick and Cadillac, this will be her first stint at Chevrolet, but if the stories about her storytelling abilities are true, she'll be able to create strategic partners in situations where opponents existed before, an important skill necessary for any chief engineer.

At this point little is known about the strategy she has in mind, whether that's offering something revolutionary like exotic materials or a new suspension choice, or a more steady approach with small, simple improvements to towing, payload and cab quietness. But whatever she decides or allows her staff to attempt, the bar needs to be raised. Whether she's the one to get it done will be the big question. photo by Evan Sears; Hickok photo from GM

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A girl for a truck job?

^^ exactly what I thought

MAKE THEM SMALLER. I realize this is America and we like everything super-sized. The new Colorado is labeled "mid-sized" compared to the bloated current full sized trucks, but on par with what was full sized 15 years ago.

GIVE THEM SOME CURVES. We've had the same blocky, square, bubbled out looking exterior for the past 8 years already and several more years to come. How can they look anymore like a brick at the current model? Give GM a compass and put some curves back into the design.

FOCUS ON MPG AND NOT HP. After GM drops 500hp in every plain Jane cheapo work truck special, stop with the power upgrades and get these things up in the high 20's to 30 mpgs. 350HP should be enough to get any job done. Anymore power and it is just a waste except for the HD trucks. It's easy to increase HP but seems almost impossible to get efficiency moved up.

PUT SATURN LIKE PLASTIC BODY PANELS OVER STEEL. I thought Saturn had a good idea with a rust free body panel over a steel inner skin. It will be easier to replace than fix damaged aluminum panels. Youtube this one. Use steel for strength and plastic for corrosion resistance. Use stainless steel brake lines on the "Northeast package" trucks. Around me guys would drool over that one alone with our salt usage. Let Ford do aluminum bodies.

MAKE THEM MORE AFFORDABLE. $28,000 for a reg cab, V6, 2WD work truck is crazy. A $47,000 Silverado truck alone is crazy. $35,000 for a nicely equipped truck would be fantastic. LTZ models go as high as you want because people who buy them don't care about price anyway.

My 2 cents.

^ I think you want the Colorado...

Round wheel wells....and why does every truck have to look like a brick coming at you? Open the hood and a lot of empty space due to the squared off front end......lets re-invent the truck.. like Ram did back in the mid 90's......(I have never owned a Ram)but they seem to tweek something every year....not every 6 years

^ Have you seen the 2015 Silverado Custom? That looks like it might fit the bill for you.

Toycrusher is right. Steve, I think you will find most of the things you described in the new Colorado. That's what I'm looking at too.

I wondered how long it would take for someone to throw out a "woman" comment... Bonus points for saying "girl" instead! Oy

Whoever it is, I wish they would design a truck to be a truck and not some pimped out wannabe toy. Make them reliable and make them last.

Looks like one needs to add "womin" to Godwin's law.

She is the senior engineer. She'll spend more time coordinating different departments as opposed to actually "engineering" the next gen GM siblings.

Aluminum is coming and a TTDI V6 rumour has never totally died.

She needs to fight the parts bin shuffle special package disease currently at GM.

Add real packages starting with one's that counter Ram Limited and Ford Limited. Denali is for GM, Chevy High Country is a Lariat level trim not a high end trim.

Well I'm not sexist just seems odd that they would put a woman in charge of a truck that will be purchased by an overwhelmingly majority of men. I thought the same thing when ford released a video of a woman who was in charge of some aspect of the new f150. I think men understand the wants and needs of truck shoppers a little better than women.

I think you guys might be right with the Colorado. I was hoping to get to our yearly Auto-show to sit in one but never got there. I currently have a '00 Silverado 1500 with 255k and virtually no rust because I undercoat it and drive a beater Camry in winter keeping a lot of salt off the truck. Hoping to get over 300k out of my truck, but looking down the road might be a Colorado?

The exterior of the Colorado is ok, but the interior is great. I'll have to look into the Colorado specs a little more.

@Steve - the V6 Crew 4x4 Colorado is rated for 1500lb cargo and 7k tow. I like the fact that it actually has a decent cargo capacity. It is incredibly easy to hit 1500lb with a family on board and some gear in the box.
I'd seriously consider one when it comes time to replace my F150 SuperCrew. My wife finds it way to big and 1500lb cargo puts it on par with mine. A4-5 mpg jump would be nice too.

Hopefully she'll start by changing the exterior so they are not so awkward looking. That's one of a few reasons I switched to a competitor after many years of strictly GM. I have to admit my switch has proven to be a good one. I didn't realize that spending that much money on repairs every year is not something owners of all brands normally have to deal with. But if they'd make those GM trucks look like something I'd want to be seen in then I'd certainly consider them when I'm ready to trade.

When I read some of the comments about trucks on this site, I would say a woman knows the truck market just as good as a man.

GM will not make a proper truck regardless of who's in charge. they will always be sub-par.

Another politically correct move by GM. They should have hired someone who drives trucks daily, uses trucks for their real purpose, has experience in the truck industry, and has a true passion to beat the competition since that is what it will take to be successful in this ultra-competitive market. Good luck GM- you're going to need it.

All you GM haters are funny.

GM Trucks are outselling every other Auto Company.

They must not be as bad as 5 or 6 of you make it sound...

Don't be jealous that GM is selling the most trucks, and don't make up excuses for selling the most of one model line. Nobody cares, GM is one company and is selling the most trucks case closed.

GM has the most widespread variety of trucks in their portfolio by far. 2 different model lines that appeal to different customers and a midsize line.

Ford has one model line. The front of the HD's look like a BBQ Grill and the F-150's look like a toaster.

Let the excuses pour in!!

Four points....if only because I am too busy to come up with more.

First too many of you are bigots.
Second the mark of a good leader is someone who is willing to hire someone better then they are and be humble enough to learn from them.
Third She has a track record of success.
Fourth it appears her job will be quite relational...and even though you may not want to admit it, ladies tend to be better at being relational then guys.

Seriously? Take your ego out of the equation and see what she can do.

$28,000 for a reg cab, V6, 2WD work truck is crazy. A $47,000 Silverado truck alone is crazy.

@Steve, I appreciate the sticker shock but the real price you pay for a truck is the difference between what it cost new, and what you received for it when you sell.

So if I buy a truck for $30kand sell it in three years with average number of miles on the clock and get $20k, the real cost to me was the $10k difference.

I remember when I could buy a brand new truck for less than 10k so I know something about this.

@ Steve You are spot on with what should be done. I will also add... get rid of those FUGLY square wheel wells

OK, she's a woman. Not as significant as the fact she's a youngin'. 38 years old- proof though, that Education gets you places- Kettering engineering (one of the best for automotive), quick engineering masters, and Business masters by the time she was 30 (GM paid for that). Since then- up-up, and away!

This is from her Twitter acount:

"non-typical engineer, mom of two, wife, and runner"

Since she works for GM does "non-typical" mean she will NOT take dangerous shortcuts cough ignition hack cough?

Here is a heads up for you guys.

The chief engineer for the big three are all Women.

That's right Ford,Chevy and Ram.

^^^^ that's not me^^^^

You might want to check on that again.

Ford's Chief Engineer for the F-150 is Pete Reyes, and Chris Brewer for Super Duty. Ram Trucks has Mike Cairnes. Chevy is the only one with a woman Chief Engineer. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Looks like you posted something and googled it afterwards to find out it was not correct. Own up to your mistakes. smh.

F-150 does have a female "lead" engineer. But the Chief engineer in charge is male. Not that there is anything wrong with a female. Just correcting the record that all "chiefs" are female.

Half tons are nothing but glorified grocery getters.


Who cares if it is a woman, a black guy, Chinese or whatever.

Why not judge a person on their successes and failures.

Remember without failure there is no success.

I remember reading an interesting article regarding the collapse of stock markets. A study was carried out and it found women tend to accept less risk than a man.

But, the woman also ended up making a larger profit overall for the business.

I've had female managers/engineers as my boss and I still do.

There is nothing wrong with a woman in that role. I fully support placing the CORRECT individual to do the job.

Just read the comments on this site. How many of you so called men are even capable of accepting the responsibility she has accepted. Not many.

She's Hot!

The first thing she needs to do is fire the design department! Then they need to make the next truck look like a modern 2002 1500, in my opinion that was the last good looking fullsize truck Chevy built.

GM has a number of female chief engineers working on trucks. Anita Burke is chief engineer for the Colorado and Canyon, and Jully Burau was chief engineer for the current generation Silverado and Sierra. Sheryl Balsley lead development of the current generation of small-block truck engines. The quality of their work speaks for itself, and I am confident that Sheri's team will do great work on the next-generation truck.

"I am confident that Sheri's team will do great work on the next-generation truck." - Tom at Chevy

Would we expect you Tom to say anything less? You are a paid PR person for Chevy.

Nevertheless, if it is true that these trucks are mostly used for grocery shopping, this could be a good choice according to this study by the Food Institute.

Study: Women Still Dominate Grocery Shopping

Two-thirds of females are the primary grocery shoppers in their households, with three-quarters of those women making grocery lists and more than half clipping coupons or researching sales, Progressive Grocer said.

Maybe a women's touch is what was needed.

I would expect no less from a pro Ford website like this. What the hell about they need to raise the bar? If I'm not mistaken didn't GM win the latest HD shootout and the V8 LD shootout? Mark, not sure its possible to show your pro Ford bias any stronger. So do you get paid vacation from Ford along with a paycheck????

PUT SATURN LIKE PLASTIC BODY PANELS OVER STEEL. I thought Saturn had a good idea with a rust free body panel over a steel inner skin. It will be easier to replace than fix damaged aluminum panels. Youtube this one. Use steel for strength and plastic for corrosion resistance. Use stainless steel brake lines on the "Northeast package" trucks. Around me guys would drool over that one alone with our salt usage. Let Ford do aluminum bodies.
My 2 cents.
My 08 Silverado has brake lines made of some kind of black material,not sure what,but it's totaly rust free after these years,so don't know why would you want stainless??

I wish GM made these trucks more curvy rounded also,
like the 2000 models were and LOWER to the ground for ease of loading better handling,,especially the 2 wheel drives!!

And on the subject of material let's stay away from aluminum and go with something stronger lighter and ecological
such as hemp plastic

Let's not typecast female engineers. To get to the vehicle chief level at any carmaker, you have to be a great engineer and a great manager of large teams of people. Also, people in Michigan tend to grow up in families of gearheads, and tend to own and use trucks, so they know their stuff. I really admire a lot the engineers I work with -- male and female. Working with them is one of the best parts of my job at Chevy.

This is very odd. Usually these pickup chief engineer news release stories have videos of the outdoors, talking about living on a ranch, or growing up on farm, experience using pickups, understanding a pickup's role, etc. I have a bad feeling of where Barra/GM is going with this.

well it wouldn't be hard to improve on that fugly looking thing they call a truck now

It doesn't matter where you were brought up to be an engineer.

I would assume employing a farmer in a large institution like GM to take control as a CE isn't a smart move like you think.

Leave farming to the farmers and engineering to the engineers.

Having experience with designing vehicles and being a gear head are much more important than gender in qualifications for a Chief Engineer. I know a number of women that are more knowledgeable about cars and trucks than some men. As for farmers there are many farmers that know a lot about vehicles especially when they have to repair their own equipment and trucks. Ideally a person that has been raised on a farm with an engineering background would make a good truck designer and engineer especially if they grew up fixing farm equipment and vehicles. I wouldn't assume that farmers wouldn't make good truck engineers because their background, experience, and education might very well be what is needed.

A woman designer will add cute pink teddy bear decals on the outside and maybe add cute curtains for the windows

This is troubling....

"I'm not a traditional truck driver, so to me that process will be really powerful," she said. "The guy who owns the construction business, what does he need out of his truck? It's probably going to be something very different from what I would want."

An engineer and a manager doesn't need to be a truck lover or owner to successfully design and manage.

She will have people around her to do that. Just because you are a truck owner doesn't naturally make for a good manager.

Just like a farmer, just because you own a tractor doesn't make for a good farmer.

Her job will be to co-ordinate and form a team, not so much design. Her knowledge and discipline will allow her to comprehend the design, engineering and manufacturing processes to base her decisions on. No different than what a male manager would do under those circumstances.

In other words the teams around her do the heavy lifting and she maintains direction and guidance.

I'd even bet meetings of the lead engineers and designers are held and a consensus is reached before moving forward. This is called maintaining direction.

When there is a hurdle or block her job is to create some form of work around to attain the desired outcome.

This is what all managing engineers do for a living. It's what I do, but at a lower level.

On the other side of the coin she might be the best person for the job. Imagine if she is a so called "pickup lover", and thinks she's correct all of the time.

This wouldn't allow for her team who are most likely specialists in light commercials to put forward their ideas and have these ideas incorporated. It would also make for an unhappy team.

Look at the building and construction industry. An architect is a designer and a structural engineer makes the design come to life.

Building and construction crew build the structure.

There isn't much difference between this and designing a motor vehicle. There are parallels in the way an idea is managed to become a product or structure.

Why everyone complains about the square wheel wells I cannot understand. Square, round, to me that is minor. But maybe, just maybe, GM can built trucks with a steering wheel that is actually centred and not off to the right of the driver.

@ Lou, I definitely agree. Chevrolet needs a Denali/Limited trim badly. The High Country is a nice Lariat fighter at best. Round wheel wells would be nice. E-coated frames are a must. A real off road effort using a SFA would be fantastic. They need to revisit the Task Force name for an HD package. They need to revisit the 1967-1972 Chevrolet trucks for the entire line of next generation models.

A chief engineer better know the product and the customer base. Any other choice is just feel good, political correctness. This staff change doesn't look very promising. She has experience with a couple of car brands (Buick and Cadillac) which doesn't bode well for a brand where the last design change was poorly received. I doubt she's ever hooked-up and towed a trailer. Or maxed the payload of a pickup and felt the change in pickup performance. Probably never owned a pickup let alone drove a 3/4 or 1 ton diesel pickup.

Her decisions will heavily rely on the current staff surrounding her. Gotta hope she listens but she won't be the originator of new relevant pickup changes.

Have a look at many projects are around. Managing a project has less to do with what you are managing than knowing the "nut and bolts" of what you are managing.

Project management is the understanding and co-ordination of teams who are your SMEs (subject matter experts).

All she needs is the ability to work in the automotive manufacturing industry as a project manager.

She only needs to understand the hows and whys and maybes.

Really, do you think chief engineers in a fighter program are fighter jocks?

Or the chief engineers of an aircraft carrier program is a Navy Captain?

Design isn't done by her. She is given a concept and a team to bring the concept to fruition.

Read up on the structure of management.

Just by your comments you are either just a worker or still at school.

I manage large jobs, to the point where a whole airframe is stripped down. I will run several of these types of jobs at once.

Do I need to know what is always going on? I just want to know the big picture regarding the job. I have people under me who worry about the intricacies of the tasks at hand.

For myself to go any deeper would be called micro managing and also worrying about issues that are non issues. The leads under me are my SME's, I go to them if there are any issues that require resolving.

Micro managing is a very poor form of management. It does exist. Why would you want to make your SMEs not be responsible or accountable. Micro management removes this from your workers. They also lose their authority in managing themselves. Bad for morale.

To my managers I'm their SME. My boss is a Senior Engineer one step down from the Chief Engineer.

When problems arise we sit down and come up with ideas to work around them. I do the same with my teams.

Also, don't discount someone who "doesn't know boats" from being on your team. Sometimes a culture develops in a team and they hit a brick wall and just not able to overcome or solve the problem.

An "outsider" comes in and isn't constrained by the "team culture" and throws out some interesting ideas.

I do think if anyone wants to work in a "mechanical/electronic" environment become a manager and enjoy the ups and downs. One day you are getting a pat on the back and the next your getting your a$s kicked around.

Great fun, but it pays better than flipping burgers.

You guys make me laugh, she is just a figure head. The direction the GM twins head from an Engineering standpoint has nothing to do with anything she says or does, she can do some styling influences and packaging/options but the direction the GMT K2XX heads will be way above her pay grade.

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