Edvie Castro, General Counsel & COO of DOWC
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2021 Honoree

Edvie Castro

General Counsel & COO
DOWC

What is the proudest accomplishment of your career thus far?

My proudest accomplishment is having swiftly advanced to a leadership position in a dynamic and rapidly growing company where I leverage my skills to continuously build upon three core objectives:

  • provide our clients with structure, participation and wealth-building opportunities unmatched in the industry;
  • drive the completion of long-term projects that allow exponential growth beyond our domestic borders; and
  • lead a passionate and solutions-focused team, largely populated with capable women, that is able to drive real change in the industry.

As a company, our crowning achievement is evidenced by the resilience of our dealers over the course of the pandemic. The importance of an F&I participation structure that allows dealers to grow wealth and access capital when needed was never more apparent than in 2020 and early 2021 — and even now as dealers attempt to avoid the swing of the pendulum between pandemic supply and demand with continued inventory and component shortages.

DOWC was born of the 2008/2009 economic downturn with the singular vision of ensuring that dealers are able to leverage their F&I profits when they need them most. Knowing that our dealers utilized funds available to them through their warranty companies and reinsurance companies to pay their bills, maintain inventory and retain talent during turbulent times is our greatest success story. I am proud to be part of the team that led our clients through this difficult time.

In my dual role as general counsel and COO, I take tremendous pride in the successful completion of various long-term projects that ensure complete control over all aspects of our business in order to drive value for our clients. In the last 24 months, we realized our goal of a national practice by completing registration, licensing and approval processes for our products in all states and with all major lenders. We expanded our technology development company. We also chartered multiple insurance companies. The result is our ability to successfully and timely meet all of our clients’ needs, from the satisfaction of all regulatory and compliance requirements, to risk mitigation through customized insurance coverages and increased efficiency via technology and reporting.

The team I have built is passionate and excited about serving the legal and operational needs of the company. It is through the comprehensive understanding of the F&I business and hard work of our team as a whole that we have been able to surpass our competition in all legal and operational aspects — compliance, transactional, tax, insurance, product development and technology — and provide our clients with structure and participation opportunities unmatched in the industry. I am proud to say that our team is comprised of many women who are reshaping the business of a predominantly male industry. As there are currently few women in top leadership positions in the space, it is my hope that our team’s pioneering of change will draw in a previously untapped pool of talent and spur growth as we transform the industry.

 

What is your best advice to other women who want to excel in the automotive industry?

Be confident in your knowledge and your skills. When you are the subject matter expert in the room, own that, know your worth and trust yourself.

Explore the ways in which your skills can be transferable and applicable to this industry, regardless of your background. Examine your strengths and embrace the opportunity to take risks.

These things are often easier to do when you surround yourself with business partners, female and male, who endorse your abilities, encourage your contribution and champion your mutual vision. Focus on listening and always being open to learning from everyone else in the room. Success is multifaceted and means little without consistent growth. Be ready to demonstrate your passion and your ability to drive positive change.

 

What are some of the ways you have seen the industry support women?

In recent years, the industry has been trending in a more positive direction with representation and inclusion of women at the executive level, though there is more work to be done.

Where I’ve seen the greatest success is among women supporting other women. As they achieve prominence and ascend to higher levels of responsibility, they are drawing other capable women into their orbit.

Within the industry, I see them reaching out to other women, pulling them up through the ranks with them, mentoring them and providing them with opportunities to grow. They are forming organizations, giving scholarships, providing philanthropic support, developing networking initiatives and much more. Collectively, these efforts are expanding the boundaries for women in automotive in unprecedented ways.

All this is happening in tandem with growing support from men in the industry, of course. Smart companies and their generally male leadership are beginning to see the value in leveraging women’s different skills and capabilities. There is an increasing focus on supporting and mentoring women, which needs to continue, as male-run organizations and corporations realize the benefits of diversity across the board. From entry-level through the executive suite, in manufacturing and design, service and repair, sales and marketing and everything in between, there is so much opportunity for innovation with women in the driver’s seat.

 

What is one thing the industry could do better/differently to support women?

Perception and education. The automotive sector has clearly started to recognize the need to leverage women as a resource. There is more awareness and acknowledgment of women’s capabilities and understanding that women can enhance the industry. The gap remains, however, in actually drawing more women into the pipeline and developing them through training and leadership programs. Here must be greater investment in promoting awareness of the career choices available to women (including designers, engineers, technicians, attorneys, operations managers and more) paired with the development of women’s training and leadership programs. Recognition needs to be turned into action.

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