What Drives Her: Sharon Gauci Crafts a Vision for Buick and GMC’s Future

Elevating and transforming how we see and use our cars, Sharon Gauci, executive director, design at Buick, GMC and GMC Hummer, does big things with quiet luxury

Sharon Gauci, Buick And Gmc
Sharon Gauci, executive design director, global Buick, GMC and GMC Hummer. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Career Built on Change, and Always Rising to the Challenge.

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

You may have noticed a change in the Buick logo recently. It has become simplified and demure; gone are the banners, shadows and the circle that framed the tri-shield. The elegance of the new logo aligns the shields with simple symmetry and foretells what you’ll see inside the car: a calming, modern feel. 

It’s the essence of quiet luxury. And the future for Buick: Quietly taking its customers on a luxury journey.

And, it’s the essence of Sharon Gauci, executive director, design, global Buick, GMC and GMC Hummer.

Buick Has Something Cute and Luxe to Show You: Meet the Buick Envista Compact SUV

Sharon Gauci, Buick And Gmc

Sharon Gauci, executive design director, global Buick, GMC and GMC Hummer. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Meet Sharon Gauci: Quietly Crushing It

It can be easy to spot a designer. They often travel in an air of exactness, their tempo measured for balance and impact. They want you to see what they see, and they can be very intentional about it.

Sharon was on hand recently to meet the media when Buick introduced the Envista. The minute she sat down it was clear she was a force in the room. Dressed in an elegant linen suit that didn’t seem to wrinkle, her manner matched: easy but confident.

Sharon introduced herself and through the evening asked pleasant and interesting questions of her guests. She spoke of herself and her accomplishments in a subtle but frank manner; it was almost hard to believe that this demure, elegant woman is drafting the future of Buick and at the same time, much of the future of General Motors.

But, she has been shaping the brands and vehicles of GMC for decades, and she’s developed a reputation for opening the window of creative possibilities.

Sharon leads the day-to-day operations in the Buick studio and was the guiding force behind models such as the Encore GX, Envista, and Sierra EV. 30 years in the industry have given her an expansive knowledge of marketing and product design: Before taking on the director role, she worked with every single product in color and trim at Buick.

Related: The Buick Envista is so Charming, and Here’s Why

Sharon Gauci Explains The Buick Wildcat Concept To Supercar Blondie

Sharon Gauci explains the Buick Wildcat Concept to Supercar Blondie. Photo: Supercar Blondie via YouTube

Conceptualizing the Wildcat EV

Sharon builds on this automotive legacy by envisioning the future of electric vehicle design at Buick. Over the past few years, Sharon and her team of designers gained huge momentum with a new design concept: The Wildcat EV. This was “an opportunity to conceptualize without constraints,” Sharon said.

“We do this often where we create something in studio that becomes the beacon to discover where we want the brand to go,” she told us.

The Wildcat’s exterior is fierce, while the interior creates a sense of boundless space using contrasting colors and floating elements. It also uses AI and biometric technology to shape the drivers’ experience. And of course, it features the new tri-shield logo. According to Sharon, all the elements of Wildcat will be drawn upon to create Buick’s electric future.

Related: Building the Perfect Wildcat EV

Sharon Gauci With The Buick Envista

Sharon Gauci with the Buick Envista. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Creating a Beautiful New Design Language

In this process, Sharon and her team use what they call sculptural design. They focus on beautiful forms and apply their design study from the Wildcat concept to take their portfolio to the next level.

Of course, nothing matters more than the customer. Mood boards are an extremely important facet of Sharon’s design process. Using mood boards, Sharon and her team step into the shoes of their customers. This helps them pinpoint what colors and materials will create the interior landscape that appeals to them most.

For example, their GMC mood board caters to drivers looking for capability and duality. The Buick board is inspired more by relaxation and comfort.

Related: The Buick Encore GX is Our Kind of Car

Sharon Gauci Of Executive Design Director, Buick And Gmc

Sharon Gauci of Executive Design Director, Buick and GMC. Photo: GM

Sharon Gauci Forged a Career at Australia’s Holden, and a New Regional Role

Long before Sharon started transforming Buick’s brand and establishing a cohesive design language, she got her formal education in industrial design at Swinburne University of Technology. She originally saw a future for herself in traditional industrial design. However, her career took a different route when she discovered the world of automotive design. In 1993 she started working for Ford in color and trim.

“When I accepted the job I didn’t really know what I was accepting,” Sharon explained. “I was excited to be in the business and hungry to learn more.”

In 2004 Sharon got a position at GM-owned Australian automaker Holden, working in color and trim. This role officially landed her within the vast network of GM. While in this role, Sharon realized that different Holden branches across the region including China, India and Korea needed a cohesive global strategy.

“The ‘regional role’ in Australia was something I crafted,” Sharon explained. “I saw there was a need and put my hand up for that.”

Moving forward, Sharon fulfilled that job by conducting studios in a design strategy that would soon be introduced to North America.

Sharon Gauci Behind The Wheel Of Her Baby

Sharon Gauci behind the wheel of her baby. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Thoughtful and Ambitious Designer, Leader, and Mother

The challenge of a career such as Sharon’s is having the rest of things we value in life: Marriage, kids, family. But keeping automotive in the family helped. Sharon’s husband is also an automotive designer, too. As her career grew, he accommodated, moving with her and their son from Australia to the U.S.  – twice.

But the opportunity gave them all the chance to make new friends and adapt to a different culture. Sharon believes this has brought them closer together.

While it was a difficult journey for the whole family, Sharon ultimately wants her son to see what it is like to follow your dreams and learn new perspectives. She boasts that her son is incredibly resilient and independent.

“He is way more driven than I am,” Sharon said. “I often will say to him ‘Taking a pause is ok, too.’”

What Sharon and her husband didn’t impart on their son is ambition in the automotive world; he’s pursuing a career in medicine.

“His passion is for healing people,” Sharon said.

Her 24-year-old son currently works for the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston with aspirations to become a surgeon. Even though he may be breaking the “automotive bloodline,” Sharon is extremely proud of all that he’s endured and all that he strives to achieve.

Sharon is always challenging herself, and she wants her son to do the same.

“I’ve always landed in roles that have required big change or new direction,” Sharon explained. “If there’s a legacy that I’m leaving behind, I hope I truly made an impact in some way.”

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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