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3 female automotive industry leaders share how they conquered the industry

This National Women’s Month, CBT news has compiled an inspiring collection of prominent female automotive industry leaders to commemorate women’s history, analyze the unique hardships, victories, and effects gender has on how women pursue their careers. By sharing their biggest struggles and successes in the industry, women can encourage others to defy social expectations and chase their dreams.

Olabisi Boyle leads Hyundai Motor North America (HMNA) Product Planning & Mobility Strategy. Her goals are to boost EV profitability and volume growth while maintaining the competitiveness of Hyundai and Genesis products through successful product introductions, third-party recognition, and smart pricing optimization. With important MECA projects, the creation of new sales channels, and business models, HMNA Product Planning & Mobility Strategy strategically allows a shift to a smart mobility firm. Additionally, she oversees HMNA Product Planning, MECA, Eco-Compliance, Market Sensing Research, and Advanced Pricing.

Challenges: “Being a woman in a predominantly male industry is a big challenge. Maintaining a Built-Up and Never-Puffed-Up posture is crucial for staying strong. Put your head down and arrive every day at the Correct spot. Make sure you are prepared and knowledgeable about the subject by doing your research. In every circumstance, make an effort to persevere, be strong, and optimistic. With both the sun and the rain, try to arrive with the right attitude. Encourage those who might be struggling to succeed in a competitive industry for underrepresented groups. As you are underrepresented in a majority-centered world, use your competence to fight any unfavorable criticism.” 

Professional Triumph: Professionally, Olabisi has received the 2021 Automotive News All Star award in Product Development, was named one of Automotive News’ 100 Leading Women in North American Auto Industry for 2020, and was crowned Most Influential Women In Business but The San Francisco Times in 2020.

Being a woman in the industry: “I strive to advance workplace inclusion and diversity while showcasing the skills of underrepresented leaders. I want them to know that they belong because they are Built-up. I take on the responsibility to mentor. I try to lead with empathy, compassion, and knowledge. I ensure the team collaborates to meet our commitments and goals.” 

At CDK Global, Leigh Ann Conver serves as Senior Director of Product Marketing. She is in charge of establishing market requirements and making business reasons for investing in product lines for CDKs Neuron, Fortellis, and Data Services. She also delivers demand generation programs, opens up sales channels, and manages demand generation initiatives. Leigh Ann has substantial understanding on the application of data insights and integration to drive dealer success and develop new customer experiences. Moreover, she has over 20 years of experience in the automotive retail services industry.

Challenges: “I recently celebrated 25 years working in the automobile retail industry. As a technology supplier, I transmit to OEMs, Independent Software Vendors, and Dealers my in-depth understanding of data integration for their continuing growth and success. Two of the most male-dominated industries, technology and the auto industry, can make it difficult for women to be heard and respected by their colleagues. Although I was the subject matter expert in several meetings earlier in my career, my suggestions were never taken into consideration until someone else repeated them. That encouraged me to think of fresh and unique ways to convey my point of view so that our customers received the best advice. While it was hard initially, I credit those experiences with providing opportunities to confidently meet rising challenges and solve issues in my career.” 

Professional Triumph: “My career has largely been devoted to integrating data for the fragmented retail automobile sector. When I first started, we connected to dealerships using modems to retrieve data so that dealers could advertise their vehicle inventories online. Since the process’s inception, web-based data application centers have gained popularity. I gladly introduced the Fortellis Automotive Commerce ExchangeTM a few years ago. It is a groundbreaking API (application programming interface) and App marketplace that places a strong emphasis on communication, teamwork, and creativity. The platform enables the automotive industry to innovate, build, and integrate apps and workflows to revolutionize business in a way that has never been done before. Seeing a constant increase in the amount of APIs and applications published on a consistent basis has been thrilling.”

Being a woman in the industry: “Being a working mother has, in my case, impacted how I pursue my professional and entrepreneurial aspirations. Personally, I interpret this to suggest that it aids rather than hinders. There is a wise saying that goes, “Ask a busy person to do it.” Working mothers are among the busiest people I know. I utilize my organizational and multitasking abilities developed as a mother to my profession. I constantly strive to produce my best work in an effective and efficient manner since I know that any more time spent at work could be spent with my family. I value the assistance CDK Global offers working mothers in making sure their employment matters. My daily motivation comes from seeing first-hand how my team has positively impacted automotive retailers, it’s what gets me out of bed and into the (virtual) office each morning. Yet, paying it forward is a crucial way to honor the women who built the foundation for our achievements. I’m honored to assist women at CDK Global as they advance in their careers and to offer inspirational advice to young women pursuing tech-related occupations through groups like ChickTech. We need to continue supporting one another by creating conditions for women to thrive in their respective fields.” 

Kerri Wise is the Chief Marketing Officer at Autofi, Founder and President of the Women of Color Automotive Network, and a keynote speaker. AutoFi is the leading commerce platform for end-to-end digital automotive sales and financing, powering billions of online transactions every year. As CMO, Wises’ primary responsibility is to generate revenue by increasing sales through brand management, marketing communications, market research, product marketing, distribution channel management, pricing, and customer service. WOCAN was established with the goal of empowering and attracting women of color to work in the automobile sector. The company provides a secure and inspiring environment where women of color may talk about their experiences, get help with their professions, and access materials for personal and leadership growth.

Challenges: “Being a woman in a predominantly male space like automotive, you often have to carefully navigate how to fit into the “boys club”, while staying true to who you are as a woman. This can be difficult, especially when certain traits that women possess naturally, like being relational and vulnerable, are mistakenly seen as flaws. Women in the automotive industry frequently experience situations where they are passed over or undervalued due to preconceived notions about what women are capable of. For instance, there have been instances where I’ve been cut out of talks, had my ideas rejected, and been passed over for advancements because someone thought my male teammate was my supervisor. It takes a lot of inner strength to move past these situations, to not give up, and stay focused on your goals.”

Personal Triumph: “It’s difficult to choose just one proud moment from my career because I’ve had so many. Among them is my contribution to TrueCar’s 2016 turnaround, notably with dealer relations. Being recognized as one of the Top 100 Women in North America by Automotive News in 2020 was another moment to be proud of. Last but not least, it has been a labor of passion for me to co-found Women of Color Automotive Network in 2020 and watch it develop to over 600 members.

Being a woman in the industry: “As a woman in a predominantly male industry, you are often the “underdog” and that drives me to want to overachieve and surpass expectations. There are often very few of us in leadership and so it’s a balancing act to stay true to who you are while trying to fit in with your male counterparts. Like many other women, I’m also juggling my career and homelife as a mother of two girls. That juggling act can be challenging, but it also motivates me to be efficient and prioritize my time.”

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Jaelyn Campbell
Jaelyn Campbell
Jaelyn Campbell is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. She is a recent honors cum laude graduate with a BFA in Mass Media from Valdosta State University. Jaelyn is an enthusiastic creator with more than four years of experience in corporate communications, editing, broadcasting, and writing. Her articles in The Spectator, her hometown newspaper, changed how people perceive virtual reality. She connects her readers to the facts while providing them a voice to understand the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the digital world.

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