Automotive Partnerships Director
What is the proudest accomplishment of your career thus far?
I am very proud of what I do, in building a bridge between the world of new mobility solutions and the traditional automotive retail and commercial segments, in both fixed and variable operations. For a long time, the new “gig” companies were perceived in an adversarial type of relationship to automotive retailers, when in fact, we all can best work as partners to increase customer care, increase business and reduce costs.
Particularly in this unforeseen pandemic environment, we worked with retailers, and I am proud to say that now in dealership fixed ops, pick up and delivery utilizing the new “gig” companies is almost expected as a convenience option in most dealerships, where before it was an outlier.
We have partnered and integrated with industry stalwarts such as Xtime, CDK/Fortellis (Hailer) and RedCap to make our services even more convenient, and with all this, I think we have barely scratched the surface on how we can help car dealers compete with the “immediate delivery” mentality ushered in by companies like Amazon, for things like parts and accessories delivery, etc.
Most importantly, I am very proud of the fact that I helped usher in this liaison with the automotive industry as a woman, in what is even today still perceived as a traditionally male-dominated industry by even the new mobility entrants.
What is your best advice to other women who want to excel in the automotive industry?
I advise all women who are now thinking about the opportunities in the automotive industry but are put off by either the “old school” idea that it is an “old boys” network, or, indeed, even worse, that is not innovative or moving quickly enough for opportunities to be available, that the old stereotypes, for the most part, are dead and a thing of the past on both counts.
The automotive industry and innovation in mobility and transportation is now moving quicker than at any time in history — far quicker than many other traditional industries. Just look at the rapid push in EVs, autonomous vehicles, telematics and, I have to say the “gig” ride share companies and compare it to what was on the horizon even a few years ago.
Closer to retail, in both fixed and variable operations, look how far a woman can go with consumer-facing talent. There is some work to do in some areas, as there still may be some lingering of the “old boys club” mentality out there, but I think this is a manifestation of past stereotypes, and now more than ever, talent and drive rule.
What are some of the ways you have seen the industry support women?
The industry has come a long way in the last few years to create opportunity for women in many areas, and that the old stereotype of automotive retail being a “man’s industry” is dead. Particularly, larger companies in the industry have done an excellent job in both formal and informal mentoring programs for women, and awards such as “Women at the Wheel” help to add visibility and needed recognition to the achievements of women in the industry. The reality is that most of the women I talk to at dealerships, in fixed and variable ops, are doing well and happy with their progress and career path. The same for women at vendors that service the industry, including the OEMs and larger organizations. My informal observation would have been different even a few years ago, but now the bigger problem is the perception of the old exclusionary stereotype of the automotive industry (even at some Silicon Valley disruptor companies), rather than the reality itself that is causing damage, keeping talented women out of even considering the industry as a career option and therefore reducing the candidate pool that is necessary for true empowerment at all levels. Again, recognition like “Women at the Wheel” helps to bring this needed visibility to all sectors.
What is one thing the industry could do better/differently to support women?
I think we all need to help to get the word out that the old stereotypes are dead, and there are strong opportunities for all in the greater automotive and mobility industry. There are many misconceived old notions out there in the automotive retail world, and not just gender related. There is great opportunity for all in automotive retail, and the last I checked, the industry has a shortfall of candidates. On the retailer side, from fixed operations, service writers, technicians, to vehicle sales, the industry is booming right now, and I’ve heard from many retailers that they can’t find good people, and they are looking everywhere. Not to mention the new mobility companies that are growing rapidly and need a diverse group of candidates to fuel growth. Again, we in the industry know of this opportunity but many outside the traditional automotive world do not, and are not seriously looking at career opportunities because they are driven away from the stereotypes of the past.