I reluctantly got out of my seat in the back of the room and made my way to the cocktail line for the networking reception. I hate networking. I know I shouldn’t. I’m a VP of Sales for goodness sake. But, I do. As I stood in line, I challenged myself to introduce myself to the woman behind me — and then, everything changed. This woman was so open, friendly and approachable. It was only the beginning of three days of celebrating our female peers.
You may not know this, but I’m new to auto. During my first 15 months at PERQ, I’ve been to my share of conferences, but this one was definitely an eye-opener for me. Although it was different, it was simultaneously refreshing.
Here were 5 of my key takeaways from July’s Women in Automotive conference:
1. My non-auto business background doesn’t preclude me from helping peers in auto.
Shame on me for allowing myself to question the value of my previous entrepreneurial and sales experience! As I listened to keynote and breakout speakers, I found more similarities with my background than differences. I left the conferences saying to myself, “I can absolutely add value in the automotive space.”
2. Women in Auto are incredibly approachable and selfless.
That experience I just mentioned in the cocktail line was, in fact, not unique. I met three different women while in the same line who were all equally approachable. The same could absolutely be said about the rest of the conference hall.
Every woman — from the top keynote headliners, to the dealer principles, to the BDC managers, to the vendor leaders were all incredibly approachable.
There was an openness that I haven’t seen in many other female settings in business. I definitely haven’t felt this ego-free environment at another show in auto. This was a unique environment.
3. Women in Auto have a true desire to see other women succeed.
It was palpable. You could feel in the room the desire for others to succeed. Cynicism was not welcome. The most powerful leaders wanted others, all of us, to rise in the ranks.
“You could feel in the room the desire for others to succeed. Cynicism was not welcome.”
After all, when one of us soars forward in income, title, position, or influence, it helps us all in a positive way.
4. We have accomplished entrepreneurial leaders in auto.
The automotive industry has paved the way for entrepreneurial female leaders. There are so many grass roots stories of success consisting of a variety of backgrounds.
Automotive is a tough industry, and these women managed to achieve success without having anything handed to them.
These women realized that phenomenal opportunities were not given. Opportunities are asked for and are to be proactively pursued.
5. We have an opportunity to equip our emerging middle managers
Our next opportunity for this space is to cultivate our middle managers and entry level female employees. We need to challenge what it means to be confident (tweet this), proactive, professional and strong presenters, negotiators and leaders.
When this next group of female leaders takes the reigns, leaves behind negativity, avoids gossip, raises the game, and asks for opportunities – well – watch out! I can’t wait to see even more of that and I can’t wait to attend Women in Auto next year.