"Leadership development must have an equal balance of the person wanting leadership when the opportunities are presented and the business getting value by the placement."
Nelda Connors has over 25 years of international leadership experience in the automotive industry. Connors’ passion for understanding how products are designed and manufactured led her to pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Dayton. Her career soon took an international turn when she was selected as a Rotary International Japan fellow. As part of the program, Connors studied international finance and economics at the University of Tokyo while working at a Toyota supplier. This post-graduate experience was the beginning of a career that would be defined by global automotive leadership.
Connors has held executive and management positions at Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Eaton Corporation, and Tyco International—positions that took her all over the world. Beginning in 1998, Connors directed Ford Europe’s parts supply and logistics organization in Cologne, Germany; led Eaton’s Asia-Pacific fluid power and commercial truck divisions; and later joined Tyco International as president of their electrical and metal products division. In these leadership positions, Connors has had a pioneering influence on a traditionally homogenous industry as an African American woman. Using her widespread knowledge of multiple industries, Connors helped bring these automotive companies up to speed with new technologies, systems, and processes. She successfully led Atkore International through a global recession and took the company public in 2010.
In 2011, Connors founded Pine Grove Holdings, LLC, a privately held investment company that acquires and operates small- to mid-size businesses with highly engineered products and services. By 2021, Pine Grove had ten portfolio companies and a $74 million valuation. As CEO of Pine Grove, Connors is one of just a few African American women running her own private equity firm. She has been recognized as one of the most influential African American women in business by Forbes, Savoy, and Black Enterprise.
Connors’ expertise has been sought out by numerous companies and organizations. She has served as a board member and board advisor for companies including Nissan, BorgWarner, Boston Scientific, Echo Global Logistics, and Otis Elevator Company, among others. In these roles, Connors provides guidance to some of the nation’s biggest companies regarding business operations, strategic planning, sustainability, and diversity and inclusion.
In her many leadership roles across the world, Connors has helped shape the future of the automotive industry on a global scale. For her role as a leader and entrepreneur, her expertise in automotive engineering and plant management, and her success in providing financial, technical, and operating support to diversified industrials, original equipment manufacturers (OEM), suppliers, and distributors, Connors received the 2021 Industry Influencer Award from the Automotive Hall of Fame.
Receives a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Dayton
Selected for the Rotary Foundation’s Japan Study Program scholarship to study at the University of Tokyo
Becomes a Global Senior Executive at Ford Motor Company
Becomes Global Vice President of Eaton’s Fluid Power and Commercial Truck Divisions
Becomes President and CEO of Atkore International, Tyco International’s Electrical and Metal Products division
Leads the initial public offering of Atkore International
Founds Pine Grove Holdings, LLC
Pine Grove Holdings grows to 10 portfolio companies
Receives the Automotive Hall of Fame’s Industry Influencer Award