Director, Advanced Product Creation and Special Vehicle Team For a car enthusiast, Hau Thai-Tang is certainly driving in the right direction. After serving as the chief nameplate engineer for the 2005 Ford Mustang, Thai-Tang now oversees the creation of the most powerful factory-built Mustang ever -- the 2007 Shelby GT500 -- and is shepherding it into production. "My position has caused some envy among my friends," he says. "They can't believe I get paid for this." His current assignment is just the latest in a string of key positions tied to hot cars. Prior to his role as Mustang chief nameplate engineer, he was Mustang vehicle engineering manager, leading the development and launch of the 2001 Mustang GT, V-6, Cobra and Bullitt GT models. Earlier, Thai-Tang was vehicle dynamics supervisor and vehicle engineering manager for the 2000 Lincoln LS, which was awarded the Motor Trend Car of the Year honor and was named the Best Driving Domestic Sedan by Road & Track. His postings with Ford also include an assignment in Germany, as well as working with Ford Racing as part of the company's CART program. He served as a race engineer for the Newman-Haas Racing team during the 1993 season and was responsible for the development of Nigel Mansell's and Mario Andretti's race cars. Thai-Tang says three key lessons from the racing world still are proving to be valuable -- the importance of data-driven decision making, meticulous preparation and a disciplined adherence to deadlines. "The Indy 500 starts Sunday at noon. If you're not there, they start without you," he says. Born in Vietnam, Thai-Tang grew up in New York City. He joined Ford in 1988. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University and an MBA from the University of Michigan. In 2001, he received the Automotive Hall of Fame's prestigious Young Leadership and Excellence Award.