What Drives Her: Mandi Damman Goes All In On the Cadillac Escalade IQ

Engineer, innovator, mentor and ... mom: meet Mandi Damman, the woman who led the bold vision for Cadillac's newest electric car, the Cadillac Escalade IQ.

Cadillac Escalade Iq Chief Engineer Mandi Damman
Cadillac Escalade IQ Chief Engineer Mandi Damman presents the all electric vehicle. Photo: Cadillac

The Thrill of Creating a Drive Experience Like No Other

Editors note: This interview was conducted by Scotty Reiss and written by Eden Shamy.

Cadillac just introduced the 2025 Escalade IQ, the first-ever all-electric Escalade. Between its stunning efficiency, 55-inch display, and second-row ‘Executive Seating,’ Chief Engineer Mandi Damman did not come to play. She knew that to reinvent an icon, you have to be bold.

Before her role as a Chief Engineer, Mandi Damman was director of vehicle dynamics in noise and vibration at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds. That covered all vehicles, so Mandi worked with the entire GM portfolio. In the growing world of electric vehicles, Mandi Damman saw her colleagues transform popular models such as the Hummer and Silverado.

“I wanted in!” Mandi said.

After nearly 20 years at General Motors, Mandi described her work on the Escalade as the assignment of a lifetime.

Related: The Escalade IQ is a Stunner

Cadillac Chief Engineer Mandi Damman Enjoys Being Hands On.

Cadillac Chief Engineer Mandi Damman enjoys being hands-on. Photo: Cadillac

Mandi Makes No Compromises on the Escalade IQ

Mandi Damman thrives on ambiguity and creative freedom. Although she was never a “traditional car guy,” her love for new challenges has landed her in all sorts of roles at General Motors. From noise and vibration engineering to autonomous vehicles, Mandi never knows what she’ll do next. While she jumps at every opportunity, she also finds it important to focus on “one role at a time.”

“Be all in on whatever job you’re doing,” Mandi said.

There’s no doubt Mandi went all in on the Escalade IQ. She told her team not to compromise on anything and always go back to what customers want. With that in mind, they created a vehicle with outstanding efficiency that highlights both the driver and the passenger.

The Escalade IQ has a projected driving range of 450 miles. Its pillar-to-pillar display has designated screens for drivers and passengers. The second row has what they call “Executive Seating,” with premium captain’s chairs, personal screens, wireless chargers, and USB ports. The list of fascinating new features and intricate luxury design could go on.

Related: The Bold and Brawny Cadillac Escalade V

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Mandi with Cadillac colleagues Bryan Nesbitt, Executive Director of Global Cadillac Design; Mark Reuss, President, GM; and Joe Roth, VP Global Cadillac Photo: Scotty Reiss

Mandi’s Cadillac Dreams Started at GM at age 18. She’s Never Looked Back

Mandi is proud to be the first engineer in her family. Her journey to becoming a Chief Engineer began when she took an engineering class in high school. She fell in love and decided to get her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at Kettering University. She later got a Master of Engineering at the University of Michigan.

While Mandi is proud to be the first engineer in her family, that also meant she had no idea what she was getting into. For that reason, she was enticed by Kettering University’s co-op program.

“After three months of school, I could get into the industry and see what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life,” Mandi explained.

The co-op landed her at GM, and she never looked back. As a co-op student, Mandi worked in body structures, vehicle assembly, concept integration, and more. Mandi’s first full-time position out of college was in noise and vibration engineering. She has also worked with the Bolt EV and Cruise autonomous vehicles.

A Girls Guide To Cars | What Drives Her: Mandi Damman Goes All In On The Cadillac Escalade Iq - What Drives Her Mandi Damman 2

Celebrating the Cadillac Escalade IQ in Times Square. Photo: Cadillac

Mandi Always Carves out Time to Mentor and Help Others

When working in so many different technical environments, it’s important to have someone guiding you along the way. Mandi has had many excellent mentors at GM. When she started as a co-op student at Kettering, her neighbor introduced her to a GM Chief Engineer, Lori Cumming.

Every time Mandi came in for work, Lori Cumming would sit down for lunch with her to talk about the future. Mandi knew it was a big deal to have access to a Chief Engineer, so she never took it for granted.

“She would always buy my cup of soup, and I appreciated that so much,” Mandi said.

Mandi has had many other mentors since then. She also looks up to women in the industry like Mary Barra, who demonstrate what is possible.

From a young age, Mandi learned the importance of mentoring, not only from Lori Cumming. As an undergrad, Mandi participated in a program where she mentored a high schooler from Flint, Michigan. Ever since she has searched for opportunities to help others. Mandi has dozens of mentees, and she also works in mentoring at Career Contessa.

During her work on the autonomous Bolt, Mandi created the “Empower Hour.” She brought together about 20 women at GM for an hour every few months to talk about life and work.

“I realized they didn’t always need me; they needed each other,” Mandi said.

A Girls Guide To Cars | What Drives Her: Mandi Damman Goes All In On The Cadillac Escalade Iq - What Drives Her Mandi Damman 3

Cadillac Chief Engineer Mandi Damman always finds balance between work and family life. Photo: Scotty Reiss

This Cadillac Exec Stays in the Moment with Family

While Mandi considers the Escalade IQ her baby, she has two children of her own. With a two-year-old son and nearly 4-year-old daughter, Mandi’s household is busy. She prioritizes family and never misses out on evenings and weekends with her kids. Her daughter loves cars, and her son always pushes toy cars around.

“He’s in a car any chance he gets!” she said.

They are still very young, but Mandi hopes to instill the values of hard work in them as they grow up.

“I hope that they know hard work is the price of entry, and Mom worked hard!”

After pouring her heart into the Escalade and sweating over every meticulous detail, what will Mandi do next at GM? Well, she’s not quite sure yet. There are many projects she would love to be a part of.

For now, Mandi can’t wait to bring home the Escalade IQ and give her kids a ride.

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Eden is a freelance writer and editor. She is based in Austin, Texas where she is pursuing a bachelor's... More about Eden Shamy