Automotive Inspire

November 16-17, 2021
Suburban Collection Showplace
Novi, MI, USA & Online



Earnée Gilling, Executive Group Manager in the Technical Strategy and Planning Office, Toyota Motor North America

Earnée Gilling is the Executive Group Manager in the Technical Strategy and Planning Office for Toyota Motor North America’s Research and Development Center located in Saline Michigan. Toyota, based in Toyota City, Japan, is one of the largest selling original equipment manufacturers in the world.  Gilling is responsible for leading the Digital Solutions department whose responsibilities include:

  • Leading R&D Data Analytics Governance, training, and support,
  • Technical data release ie CAD, drawing, specifications, technical standard and instruction to/from R&D, and
  • Addressing R& D data processing and access efficiency concerns,
  • Her department is currently leading the R &D paperless initiative to reduce the amount of paper consumed. Initial estimates of saving are significant.  Please join the movement!

She previously worked in interior electronics focusing on combimeter, HVAC design, and ECUs. She has had a distinguished career with Toyota that spans 20+ years of which one year was spent abroad working at Toyota Motor Corporation headquarters in Japan.

Gilling has served on 2016 Toyota’s Women’s Leadership Forum Committee as Co-Chair for Leadership and Education and won the distinguished award for Program of the Year with her Simplify Your Life with Apps event. She also served as chair of the 2017 Girls Engineering Exploration program for the Detroit Section of the Society of Women Engineers.  She is the current executive advisor for the African American Collaborative(AAC) Business Partnering Group(BPG).

Gilling’s successes include:

  • Developing a reporting strategy to breakdown electrical issues for easy understanding
  • Creating a heightened culture of awareness for diversity
  • Building partnerships with suppliers in a manner that accelerates development
  • Collaborating with other divisions to improve design flow
  • Awarded 7 patents for designs issued on the Toyota Sienna, Venza, Avalon, Tacoma, Tundra, and Sequoia.

Gilling holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from The University of Tennessee. She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, and a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.  She is also a wife and proud mother of two smart and energetic boys, Ismaél(9) and Elijah(3)!

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We’re announcing a NEW Automotive Inspire Interviewee exclusively here each week in the run-up to the LIVE TAPING.

Check back regularly to see who will be on stage.

Now Announcing…

General Motors at Automotive Tech Week

Margarita Mann

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Business Leader

General Motors

Stellantis at Automotive Tech Week

La Shirl Turner

Design Director – Head of Advanced Color & Materials


Joann Jung, Design Director, Interior Design, Lucid Motors

Joann Jung is a creative design professional with 17 years of automotive experience who leads interior design at Lucid Motors. As the Creative Director of Interior Design at Lucid Motors, she oversees development of vehicle interiors from concept strategy to volume production, with the overarching goal of designing the ultimate in-vehicle experiences for all occupants by creating a unique interior space concept.

Richard Vaughan, Director, Crafted Quality, Rivian

Richard Vaughan is Director, Crafted Quality, at Rivian, where he leads the teams responsible for Perceived Quality, Design Quality, and Craftsmanship execution for all Rivian vehicles and Adventure Products. This includes competitive benchmarking, fit & finish target setting and engineering alignment, Design Quality reviews and approvals for surface quality, texture, color, and gloss – exterior and interior, and daily in-plant Crafted Quality audits to ensure vehicles and products meet customer expectations.

Melissa Cefkin, Senior Staff Researcher, Waymo

Melissa Cefkin is a Senior Staff Researcher at Waymo, an autonomous driving technology company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to get where they’re going. 

In her role, Melissa is responsible for research to inform a wide range of topics related to the social and user impacts of autonomous driving technology. 

Mei Cai, GM Technical Fellow and Lab Group Manager, General Motors

Dr. Mei Cai is a GM Technical Fellow and the manager of the Energy Storage Materials Group. She is responsible for technology innovations in advanced energy storage materials for future electric vehicles. Mei has far-reaching R&D experience including extensive knowledge in novel materials processing.  She has managed multi-million-dollar R&D projects in the development of low-cost and durable vehicular energy storage materials and systems. Mei was recognized as the 2018 Asian American Engineer of the Year for her contributions in fundamental research and technology development and was the recipient of the Kettering Award.

Olabisi Boyle, Vice President, Product Planning and Mobility Strategy, Hyundai Motor North America

Olabisi Boyle is the vice president of Product Planning and Mobility Strategy for Hyundai Motor North America. Boyle is responsible for guiding the strategic direction of Hyundai’s U.S. vehicle lineup, leading long and short-range planning, and overseeing market research, business analytics, and pricing.

She also leads Hyundai’s U.S. mobility strategy, including IT business solutions, connected car technology, and future innovations. Boyle was named vice president of Product Planning and Mobility Strategy in August 2020.

Your Host
Drew Winter, Senior Analyst, Wards Intelligence


Drew Winter, Senior Analyst and Community Manager, Informa Tech Automotive Group

Senior Analyst and Community Manager at Informa Tech Automotive Group. As an analyst, I follow cockpit of the future and related topics. As a community manager, I create new relationships and content related to specific technical issues and topics for ITAG events. My latest project is our Automotive Inspire series of interviews with interesting and inspirational people working in the automotive and mobility industries. I also am a judge for the Wards 10 Best Propulsion Systems, Wards 10 Best Interiors and Wards 10 Best UX each year in addition to being a long-time juror for the North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year awards. 

Connect with me on LinkedIn



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