More than 200 women (and a handful of men) from every sector of the automotive aftermarket gathered on June 13 and 14 for The Women’s Leadership Conference, held jointly for the first time between AIA Canada and Women in Auto Care in the U.S.
The AIA also hosted the HR Conference preceding the leadership event.
A series of lively, inspiring and often highly entertaining presentations by entrepreneurs, experts and guest speakers made for two very valuable days, along with plenty of networking and shop talk. Here’s a rundown of just a few of the many insights shared during the conference.
- AIA Canada VP France Daviault kicked off the conference by observing that increasing the number of women in the industry is the obvious solution to the pressing labour gap plaguing the automotive business. Tammy Tecklenberg, Women in Auto Care president, added that in the U.S., automotive is a $4B industry; women form 26.7% of the (overall) workforce but 67% of spending decisions, making it profitable as well as laudable to develop their careers
- Annie Hotte, Chief People Officer, Uni-Select, outlined her professional journey and advised to get involved with colleagues outside your responsibility and learn to adapt.
- Kathy Korman Frey, founder/CEO, Hot Mommas project, George Washington University School of Business; pinpointed the real benefits of mentoring, not just for women themselves but the companies that support them.
- Maryscott (Scotty) Greenwood, CEO, Canadian-American Business Council, and Mandy Rennehan, Founder & CEO of freshco.ca, described how NAFTA has been the envy of the world, and the consequences of scrapping it. They also discussed the blue-collar disaffection exploited by U.S. President Trump, and how the solution is to bring blue and white collar together to find common ground.
- Fotini Iconomopoulos, negotiating communications strategy specialist, offered tips for successfully negotiating, comparing it to good parenting, with techniques like time-outs, giving something to get something, offering a choice of two options rather than yes or no, and using an authoritative voice.
- Petrina Gentile, automotive journalist with Globe & Mail Drive section, related how despite her masters in journalism, she had to prove herself over and over to her male colleagues, but ultimately succeeded, and advised attendees to be true to themselves and stay strong to overcome the prejudices and sexism that still exists.
- Amy Jo Martin, entrepreneur, author, outlined the steps in her book, Renegades Write The Rules that lead from dream to reality, and pointed out that the intersection of passion, purpose and skill is where bliss lies.
- J.F. Champagne, AIA of Canada president, and Bill Hanvey, Pres/CEO, Auto Care Association, discussed the present state of the industry, stating it’s an important time for association heads and the industry at large to join forces for the common good of the industry and consumers, with the looming threat of tariffs and industry issues such as telematics and data ownership that could do real harm to industries on both sides of the border.