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Pilot Program to Encourage Young Women to Join Retail Auto Industry

The pilot program aims to encourage young women to develop their skills so they can have lifelong careers in the industry.

Avatar By: Susan Gubasta November 8, 2018
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As a followup to my recent column about mentorship, I am thrilled to announce a new mentorship program launched in September by the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association’s Career Start Education Program. It’s called the Women in Automotive Mentoring Program.

This innovative program is a one-year pilot project aimed at connecting post-secondary students with automotive industry leaders who can offer support and advice while encouraging young women to develop their skills that can lead to lifelong careers in the evolving retail auto industry.

The Women in Automotive Mentoring Program came in response to inquiries from TADA member dealers who wanted to know why more women were not applying to work in the retail automobile industry, and what our association could do to encourage that to happen.

TADA’s education coordinator, Dave Fraser, helped to develop this unique program for the benefit of dealerships, students and schools.

Participating students are matched with a mentor, based on the information provided in their application package, as well as considerations including location, skills and experience. TADA will facilitate an initial orientation meeting between the mentor and participant and continue to support both throughout the program.

With the Women in Automotive Mentoring Program, students can apply to all departments within a dealership, including fixed operations, finance and insurance, sales, human resources, service, accounting, and marketing.

I am a strong supporter of mentoring, based on firsthand experience. I had the privilege of being mentored by two individuals (my later brother, Paul, and my father) in my career, both of whom were instrumental in supporting me as I learned about the business and developed my skills and knowledge.

I look forward to participating in the Women in Automotive Mentoring program, and working with students who are willing to learn about the retail automotive business.

I currently provide mentoring for a few team members at Mississauga Toyota, and adding new mentees to the mix will be a beneficial experience for both mentees, for myself and for our business.

For mentees, along with someone to talk situations through, they benefit from the experience of the mentor and, at times, the learning curve is shorter based on the feedback and past experience of the mentor.

What do mentors get from mentoring? It allows them an opportunity to share their skills and knowledge with talented individuals, who will provide more value for themselves and for their employers in the short- and long-term.

It allows them to hone their leadership and management skills, and to improve their communication and interpersonal skills. Effective leaders recognize the importance of constant learning and personal development — especially in today’s competitive and rapidly changing work environments.

For me, mentoring has introduced me to fresh ideas and new ways of viewing work-related challenges. I believe that mentoring programs work best when the benefits are mutual, when mentors and mentees learn and grow together.

For dealerships, the Women in Automotive Mentoring Program serves as a great pre-screening process, and it helps them to develop their respective teams.

Applications for the Women in Automotive Mentoring Program are open to students from all faculties and all programs, not only those in automotive courses. This program welcomes students from all post-secondary schools in Ontario.

This mentorship program is a powerful resource for students who want to begin working in the retail automobile industry. For years, women have viewed our industry as male-oriented and have opted to pursue a career in a different field.

However, in the past decade, more women have found fulfilling careers at dealerships, in all areas, from sales, service and marketing to accounting, HR and management.

I encourage new car dealerships and post-secondary schools in Ontario to take advantage of this innovative mentorship program. For more information, visit tada.ca/mentor, or contact Dave Fraser at [email protected].

women in automotive

This column represents the views and values of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA). Write to [email protected] or go to tada.ca. Susan Gubasta is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and is president/CEO of Mississauga Toyota. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.

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