Patricia K. Poppe

Awarded Young Leaders & Excellence Award 2001

1965 -

For more than 15 years, Patti Poppe served General Motors in a wide variety of executive roles. With her background education in industrial engineering, Poppe found herself in leadership roles for some of General Motors’ largest manufacturing plants. Although she started small, Poppe’s combination of knowledge, instinct and ambition led her to positions of increasing responsibility and leadership within the massive GM infrastructure.

Born in 1968, and raised in Jackson, Michigan, Poppe holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. 

Poppe began her career in Warren, Michigan as an associate-manufacturing engineer. Nine months after starting with General Motors, she was sponsored for a graduate Fellowship at Purdue university in Industrial/Manufacturing Systems Engineering where she attained her master’s degree in eight months. Poppe soon returned to Detroit where she held various positions of increasing responsibility at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant. Poppe worked in engineering, production and planning. 

Poppe was a member of the first Global Task Team for General Motors. This globally diverse team traveled around the world to learn about lean manufacturing techniques. Poppe later returned to the Detroit-Hamtramck as the plant planner and then worked in production as a supervisor and general supervisor of production. 

She was then assigned to the vice president of Manufacturing as his Technical Assistant. In this capacity, she organized and ran the general managers staff meeting on a weekly basis, and frequently facilitated conversations between the GM car assembly plants and the general manager. 

Poppe coordinated the manufacturing staff’s reviews of onsite operations at the car plants to determine best practices and areas in need of improvement. She was instrumental in developing the manufacturing metrics to measure manufacturing’s performance from month-to-month and year-to-year, driving continuous improvement and innovation into manufacturing operations. Upon completion of this assignment, Poppe returned to Detroit/Hamtramck. 

Poppe was then transferred to the Lordstown Assembly Plant in Lordstown, Ohio. She was quickly promoted to an executive position running the plant’s body shop. A few months later, Poppe was named General Assembly area manager responsible for 2,500 hourly and 100 salaried employees rotating through three shift schedules.   

In 2016, Poppe succeeded Consumer’s Energy President John Russell as the first female president in the company’s 129-year history. As of 2021, she is the chief executive officer at Pacific Gas and Electric Company. 

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