I attended the Women in Automotive Conference in Orlando, FL this week. It was a packed 3 days talking about women in business, struggles, mentorship and perseverance. I am on the executive team of my company and was proud to represent Dealer Inspire at this conference. I’ve been at 3 major companies in my career and have a history of promotions. Right out of college I worked for Ameritech Cellular. I started as a sales associate. I spent the first 3 months in training and every month remaining that year as “Sales Person of the Month”. There was a plaque and it was something I was very proud of. My male counterparts were not very happy, but it wasn’t because I was a girl. It was because I beat them every single month. I went on to be the Assistant Store Manager the next year and the following year after that I was promoted to Store Manager. I was managing the full P&L of my store at 24 years old. I had 16 direct reports and my store was always on the leaderboard.
My next jump was U.S. Cellular. I started in the Marketing Department. I was an Agent Support Manager. Again, I spent about 1 year in this role. I created more programs and processes than they had in place when I started and when I left, the team was a smooth moving machine. I then went onto the Product Development team. I wanted to have an impact on our services and was responsible for launching 2 major products that impacted the bottom line! It was the first time a wireless company offered an insurance program for their wireless phones and roadside assistance program. I created the partnerships and was responsible for launching every aspect of these products in the marketplace. Then I moved to do the same with a prepaid product called Talk Track. And from there, launched our segment marketing department and managed the “Teen” segment. It was very controversial at the time. Should we be able to market wireless phones to teens. Wow, in just 18 years, the whole universe has changed it seems!
After that, I moved to Aspen Marketing. Going to the agency side for the first time was a rewarding move. I loved being of service to my clients and creating strong relationships. I moved up the ranks at Aspen just like I did everywhere else I had been. I was a Sr. Director working on the 5th largest account that Aspen/Epsilon managed (Tier 1 Infiniti and Nissan) when I made my next move.
From there, I brought my heart, soul and hard work to a little start up called Launch Digital Marketing/Dealer Inspire. I have been at Dealer Inspire for 4 years. I am in my 5th leadership role at DI. I went from VP of Agency Relations to VP of Client Services to VP of Operations to Regional VP. As we grew, my responsibilities grew with our company. And today I am the Senior Vice President of Client Services.
The reason it’s important to share all of that is because I never felt like I was being held down. Most of my career has included a promotion every single year. Even at DI, that has been the case. I am always looking for ways to impact the business. My heart and soul are in what I do and I work very hard to make a positive impact! Today, I pride myself on impacting all of the women I have been able to mentor at DI AND the men. We have some of the most amazing people on earth. And I have had the pleasure of raising them up and helping them grow into their own leadership roles. That’s not to say it has all been easy. I had to voice my opinion many times and it wasn’t always welcomed. I don’t fight for every little thing, but I learned how important it is to fight for what you believe in. I voice my opinion. That’s what I am here to do and that’s how I’ve been able to make an impact!
This is my 4th WIA conference that I have attended along with many other Women’s conferences put on by Google and other prominent companies. As I sat in the audience, there were topics that I just didn’t experience. Dealer Inspire is an equal opportunity employer. Not because HR told them to be, but because we have amazing leadership that hired the right person for the job and it never mattered if it was a woman or a man. Fifty percent of our company is female and more than 50% of our Director level professionals are female.
One of the topics that I want to make sure I continue to foster is we have to be willing to ask for what we deserve. I did hear many examples of women asking for far less than their male counterparts. You have to be your own advocate. You have to have confidence in what you do and push for what you deserve. No one will ever give you something you didn’t ask for. You may be nervous or not like those conversations. But if you aren’t willing to stick your neck out and tell them what you are worth, well, you are letting someone else define your worth.
We can impact this wage gap and leadership gap and any other gap that exists out there. I always take ownership in my part of the equation. And I truly believe in that. Please advocate for yourself. Push yourself forward. Take that leap, ask for what you are worth and always prove it with your quality of work!
So, what are you worth Momma? And are you making it known in all aspects of your life? You need partnership at home and you need respect in the workplace. But you are also responsible for asking for those things!