Who's Who of Professional Women


Now retired, Sandra “Sonee” Lapadot led a prolific technical career for 40 years, 35 of those years as an automobile manufacturing company official. She began her transition to non-traditional work in Columbus, Ohio, when she was hired by a road design firm as a draftsman. After moving to the Akron, Ohio, area and needing a more permanent employer, in 1966 she gained employment with the Terex Division of General Motors in Hudson, Ohio, when she was hired as a manufacturing system designer. As she progressed through this division of General Motors, she also held positions as manager of engineering change implementation, manager of production scheduling, and later as the general administrator of product purchasing. In 1979, she was relocated to Detroit, and continued working for General Motors first as a senior staff assistant of non-ferrous metals, then manager of tires and wheels, and continued to hold executive roles within the company until her ultimate departure in 1986.

Ms. Lapadot then joined the staff of Chrysler Motors, and excelled in a number of positions including manager of advanced planning and production systems, manager of engine production control, and manager of corporate project systems. During her time with Chrysler, she also designed, wrote, and implemented a corporate-wide 10-digit part numbering system that maintained a core eight-digit part number for each component, and added two alphabetic characters at the end for revision identification, after which the eight-digit core could never be changed. She retired in 2001. In a career filled with highlights, she was gratified to have worked alongside a wealth of supporting and professional colleagues.

Prior to her start of her career in the automotive industry, Ms. Lapadot pursued a formal education at the University of Cincinnati, where she completed technical coursework between 1954 and 1956. After studying at the University of Akron in 1966, she graduated from Spring Arbor College with a Bachelor of Science in management of human resources in 1991, and concluded her academic efforts with a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix in 1995.

Ms. Lapadot became involved in her technical profession because she was not satisfied with the work assignments she and other women were supposed to accept. She achieved her first technical position at the road design company in Columbus, Ohio, when she was told at her interview for a secretarial position that the position was already filled. Needing to work, she asked if they had any other openings, and they stated the engineering staff 25 minutes away needed a secretary two hours a day and a draftsman six. With her technical training at a college level, she stated she could meet those requirements and was hired, and so began her transition to technical. It took three more job changes before she no longer had to begin a technical job search by applying for administrative assistant positions.

In addition to her primary endeavors, at SeaChase Condominiums Ms. Lapadot served as a member of the board of directors, as chairperson of building and maintenance, and as the president of the board between 2004 and 2007. Currently, she serves as a member of the board of governors of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Civically, she has participated in volunteer efforts with the Boy Scouts of America, the United Fund of Detroit, Easter Seals, Junior Achievement USA, Leukemia Society, Alzheimer Research, and the American Institute for Cancer Research. To remain aware of changes in her field during her working career, Ms. Lapadot maintained her professional affiliations with the National Association of Female Executives, SAE International, National Association of Professional Women, American Production and Inventory Control Society, and the Automotive Industry Action Group, among others.

According to Ms. Lapadot, the highlights of her career were the people working for and with her whom she backed and supported. Because she respected them, she had their respect, which was evidenced by the high quality of work they performed for her. Notably, Ms. Lapadot was the first woman manager in all of her career positions, leaving women behind in every area, and leading the way for other women in the future.


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