Major: Automotive Technology
During her early adult years, Jennifer Falada owned a 1985 Ford Mustang GT 5-speed that she enjoyed working on with friends.
“I’ve always loved cars and been mechanically inclined,” she said. “I enjoy taking things apart to see how they work.”
Although she initially earned several general education credits at College of DuPage after high school, Falada entered the workforce full-time and achieved success in a corporate environment. However, after seven years, she decided to return to COD and pursue her interest in autos. What impressed her were the relationships she built in the Automotive Technology program and the mentoring from the professors.
“I worked hard, and it always seemed to me that they saw my determination to be successful,” she said. “Their support was crucial and helped increase my confidence in the decision I had made to quit a full-time, well-paying job and return to school in a field that was male-dominated.”
Falada worked part-time at Kohl’s and as a lab assistant at COD, which consisted of breaking down older vehicles in the fleet for parts and helping out with basic auto maintenance fundamentals classes. Before earning her Associate in Applied Science degree in late 2001, she landed a job at the company where she still works today as Director of Insurance Operations Field Services.
“It was excellent timing,” she said. “I had started going to dealerships to interview to be a technician, and I wasn’t sure that a technician role was going to be the right fit for me. The program director at COD at the time, Mike Engeldahl, had been contacted by Ally Financial to see if he had any candidates. This resulted in my applying, interviewing and joining the company.”
Falada has held a variety of positions at Ally, a leading auto financial and dealer support services company. She handled a territory of assigned dealers providing claim assistance for vehicle service contracts and process training for service departments. In 2012, she had the opportunity to manage a dealer-facing regional team that handled vehicle service contract claims and process training, and in 2015 she became a director leading a national team providing fixed operations consulting to dealers.
In her current role as director of insurance operations field services, Falada works with multiple dealer-facing teams handing fixed operations consulting, vehicle service contract claim handling, and property and casualty claim handling on dealership inventory.
“I enjoy very much what I do,” she said. “I am very fortunate to have a role where I can use my knowledge of autos in various capacities, and I plan to continue to working with dealer-facing teams.
“I am very focused on developing my managers and our team members. As a leader in our organization, this is the most important part of my career goals. My team is tenured, and I am very passionate about passing along industry and institutional knowledge to the up-and-coming workforce. Training and mentoring them to continue the success we’ve had, which will in turn help them to be the best they can be in the areas we touch day-to-day, is the most rewarding and ultimate career goal.”
As for COD, Falada is happy that she returned to pursue her passion.
“College of DuPage is an excellent school as is the Automotive Technology program,” she said. “The education I received at COD was a great stepping stone for my career, and COD can also be a great stepping stone for transferring to a university. I would highly encourage anyone to consider COD as a great way to start their path into the workforce.”