In Pursuit of Passion: A Love of Cars and Nature=Chevy Volt

Valerie the "O" in Monument Valley

Welcome to a series I am calling “In Pursuit of Passion.” I have met many interesting people on my travels as Executive Vice President of National Wildlife Federation. But for this series, I’ve chosen to showcase those living life with extreme passion and in doing so ignite my passion. May their stories do the same for you.

I have never met Valerie Zelko, but I have  test driven her Chevy Volt and I loved the entire experience.  During a recent phone conversation, I could tell that her lifelong passion for cars was rivaled only by her passion for nature and sustainability. I felt an instant  connection to this Toronto native.

As a development and validation engineer at General Motors,Valerie takes GM cars all over the country, mostly to remote   locations with extreme weather onditions, to test electric motors in the most severe temperature and thermal conditions.

As we spoke, Valerie’s passion for what she does seems to come in large part, from the alignment between her personal values and her professional role.

Q: What are you most passionate about?

2011 Chevy VoltI grew up skiing, camping; whatever it was, we did it outside.  We were an outdoor family.  We spent most summers on a lake and so conservation was ingrained at a young age.  We developed an appreciation for nature.  I definitely believe this led me to pursue a career in sustainability. My dad was a mechanic, I’ve always been interested in cars, especially fuel cell and hybrid cars.

Sustainability is an idea that is attainable for most everyone.  Each of us can make changes in our everyday living to reduce our impact on the earth.  I look at it in the context of taking many small steps.  It’s important that we each analyze our actions like consumption, waste, our energy use and see how we can improve.  I am so excited about the  Chevy Volt, as it reduces our individual use of oil and carbon emissionsTest drive the Chevy Volt and learn how it can become your primary car.  I love the way to looks and drives.

Q: Is there someone who inspired you?

My parents have always given me confidence to follow my dreams and be comfortable asking questions to learn more. I studied mechanical engineering and worked with other auto manufacturers before joining GM almost six years ago. I am proud of the work we do and that I have found a career where my interest in cars and personal values can come together.

I am interested to hear how others have blended their passions with their careers…