Blazing trails in academia and industry
Cynthia Trudell (’74)
Cynthia M. Trudell (’74) is a trailblazer. At a time when women were rarely found in chemistry or engineering, she was studying both disciplines at Acadia. Twenty-five years later, she was first woman to head a car division at any US or foreign auto maker.
“During my undergraduate studies at Acadia in chemistry and engineering, I experienced a challenging, rewarding and supportive environment at a time when there were very few women studying these disciplines,” she says. “My experience at Acadia gave me the confidence to pursue a non-conventional career path that I might never have thought possible.”
Following her PhD in Physical Chemistry and postdoctoral research at the University of Windsor (Ontario), Trudell began her career in the automotive industry, first with the Ford Motor Company and then with General Motors. During her 20 years with GM, she worked initially in a variety of engineering and manufacturing managerial positions, including plant manager roles in Canada and the USA. Later, she assumed a number of general management roles including President of IBC Vehicles, a joint venture between GM and Isuzu in England, and Vice President of GM and Chairman and President of Saturn Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of GM.
“With others, I want to ensure that Acadia remains a progressive university in providing the high-quality educational foundation and campus experience I encountered.”
From 2001 to 2006, Trudell served as President of Sea Ray Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Brunswick Corporation, before accepting a position at PepsiCo. In her role as Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Chief Human Resources Officer, Trudell was responsible for PepsiCo’s global human resources function and the company’s human capital management strategy until her retirement in 2017. Throughout her career, she remained a strong advocate for women in the corporate world.
Trudell currently serves on the Board of Directors for ISS, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. She also serves as a member of the Defense Business Board, advising the US Department of Defense on business process and management issues. From 2000 to 2007, she served on the PepsiCo Board of Directors before resigning to accept the HR management position. She has also served on the boards of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Group (PBG) prior to PBG’s merger with PepsiCo.
The reason she is helping with Acadia’s campaign, she says, is that “with others, I want to ensure that Acadia remains a progressive university in providing the high-quality educational foundation and campus experience I encountered.”
A member of Acadia’s Chemistry Hall of Fame and the 2012 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, Trudell has garnered numerous honorary degrees including an Honorary Doctor of Science from Acadia in 2005.
Today, she says, she still carries life lessons from Acadia: “In difficult situations, always see the glass half full, and never lose one’s common sense and sense of humour.”