Susan Gubasta Answers Questions about her Career
I hear comments about how I have ‘broken a glass ceiling’ and that it’s ‘about time.’, as the first ever woman president of the TADA
Whenever I speak publicly, I enjoy receiving feedback from audiences and answering questions about my career.
Here are some of the questions that I have received over the past year:
In the past two decades, more women have advanced through the ranks at dealerships than ever before. Why is that?
The world has changed, and women feel more empowered in the workplace. The auto industry used to be an old boys’ club, and today, on the corporate side, women serve as CEOs and as middle managers; and in the dealership world, there are women dealer principals, sales consultants, sales managers, service advisers, technicians, controllers, and digital marketing experts.
You are the first ever woman president of the TADA. How have your industry colleagues responded to this?
Friends, colleagues, customers and the media have been overwhelmingly supportive. I hear comments about how I have ‘broken a glass ceiling’ and that it’s ‘about time.’ I hope that my position as president of the TADA, as a dealer principal and as a public figure will inspire other women to pursue career opportunities in the retail automobile industry.
Who were the mentors in your career?
I have benefitted from the mentorship of two individuals: First, my late brother, Paul, provided guidance, leadership and support during my early years in the business; and later, my father, Joe, provided strategic advice and wisdom as our dealership grew and expanded. Without a doubt, the mentorship of my brother and father was hugely important and allowed me to grow into the leader I am today.
Do dealerships offer mentoring for new employees?
I cannot speak for all dealerships, but at our Toyota store, we provide mentoring for all employees who aspire to advance their careers. There are two types of mentors — one is the person that you engage with on a regular basis; the other is a leader who you do not know personally but whose career you follow in the hope to gaining valuable insights and wisdom (i.e., Sheryl Sandberg, Mary Barra, Richard Branson). Both types of mentorships provide incredible benefits.
What do you say to students who are weighing career options?
This is one of my most popular talking points with students. Sadly, there is still a perception among students, parents and the public that the retail car industry consists only of salespeople and technicians. In many cases, automotive careers are not even on students’ career radar. At every opportunity, I explain that whatever your area of interest — business, finance, accounting, sales, human resources, digital marketing — there are available careers at dealerships across Ontario. New car dealerships are made up of many disciplines and areas of expertise, and the automotive training available in Ontario is absolutely first rate.
What automotive trends have surprised and delighted you in the past few years?
One is how quickly auto manufacturers incorporate integrated technologies into automobiles. For instance, dynamic cruise control, lane departure warning systems, pre collision systems and backup cameras used to be ‘add-on’ purchases a few years ago, but now they are standard features on many makes and models. Another surprise is the connectivity of vehicles and the vast amounts of data that are being collected from automobiles. That is a topic for another day!
Ontario just elected a new Conservative government. What are you (and the TADA) looking for from this new government?
The TADA is eager to work with Premier Ford and his government about issues affecting our 1,100 member dealers and car owners across Ontario. We are looking forward to the Government implementing their plan to lower the costs of doing business and vehicle ownership, which were two major items in the PC Party platform.
This column represents the views and values of the TADA. Write to email@example.com 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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