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The role of mentorship in creating diverse leadership — Sean Johnson | Porsche Brooklyn

As American society has become more diverse, so too has the automotive landscape, with dealers, manufacturers, and suppliers welcoming minorities in increasing numbers. However, representation in the car business, especially in terms of leadership, remains far behind that of other sectors. Resolving this issue is a key component to ensuring the industry’s long-term success.

On this inaugural episode of Diversity in Automotive, a show dedicated to spotlighting minority voices in the car industry, host Shyann Malone is joined by Sean Johnson, general manager at Porsche Brooklyn. Johnson shares his story of personal success in the retail automotive sector and addresses the challenges the car business must overcome to make a lasting impact on diversity.  

Key Takeaways

1. Johnson started his career in the supermarket industry before transitioning to the automotive sector in 1998. He quickly progressed in the industry, moving into management within two years, denoting the potential for rapid career advancement in the automotive field.

2. Johnson observes that there has not been significant change in the diversity of automotive leadership, especially at the top levels. Despite many of his colleagues bringing decades of experience to the business, there remains a persistent lack of representation for minorities in leadership roles.

3. Mentorship played a crucial role in Johnson’s career, underlining the importance of supporting new generations of workers in the car business. He highlights the impact of his mentors, including a general manager named Hank Barry, who taught him valuable lessons about the industry in addition to fairness, respect, and financial prudence, significantly influencing his career trajectory and personal growth.

4. Johnson emphasizes his commitment to diversity and inclusion in his workforce and urges others to adopt the same focus. Drawing from his experiences and observations in the industry, he aims to create a more inclusive and flexible work environment, giving opportunities to deserving individuals regardless of their background.

5. Johnson expresses his aspiration to eventually own a dealership. He discusses the importance of proactive efforts in achieving one’s goals, like seeking ownership opportunities and supporting the growth and development of his team and the business he manages.

"When I became a manager at the store I was at, and I owe that company a lot I was with them for about 17 years, I was the only manager of color in that in a position of authority...And going through that, and for a company to be around and be that successful, I was surprised that there weren't a lot of minorities in general, specifically black men or black women, being in positions to run their stores." — Sean Johnson

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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