More than 100 women attended the Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s annual Women’s Leadership Conference in Collingwood, Ont. yesterday. The full program of speakers and networking opportunities focused on how the automotive aftermarket can recruit more women to fill its ranks, and make them more comfortable in the job.
France Daviault, senior director of industry relations for AIA Canada, discussed the findings published in the association’s latest publication: “AWAKE: Advancing Women In Automotive.” The needs-assessment report was partially funded by Status of Women Canada.
Susan Hitchon of Schrader Performance Sensors (far right) moderated a panel of “rising stars of the industry” on the challenges and rewards of working in the automotive aftermarket. From left: Stephanie Girard of RSSW/Macpek; Krista Lindsay of the Automotive Sector Council of Nova Scotia; Kimberly Thompson of 3M Canada; Natasha Gustajtis of Canadian Tire Corporation; and Kari Hann of Specialty Sales & Marketing.
Janet Podleski, co-author of the Canadian bestselling cookbook Looneyspoons, told the story of her unlikely success. Despite a complete lack of publishing experience or culinary training, she and her sister Greta put together a collection of fun and easy recipes that sold over 900,000 copies before being taken out of print. She also stressed the principle of positive thinking as a means to improving everything from health to relationships to careers.
Executive coach and founder of Toronto-based Glenwood Consulting Group, Shoana Prasad spoke about the importance of creating a successful personal brand. She also offered public-speaking tips – working with a couple of audience members to analyze and improve their presentations. Men, she said, communicate to exchange information. Women are more likely communicate to feel comfortable and create relationships.
Malcolm Sissmore of Delphi Automotive gave a glimpse into the technology that is being developed for tomorrow’s passenger cars. He also offered his view on how the automotive aftermarket might best profit from the increasingly common telematics technology embedded in modern vehicles.
Popular home décor and lifestyle personality Debbie Travis closed the AIA Women in Leadership conference with a challenge to “Dream it… Do it… Live it.” She offered her take on how ideas need to be nurtured and developed before they come to fruition. She compared ideas to the candy ‘gobstoppers’ or ‘jaw-breakers’ that were made in her father’s candy business. “They start as the most fragile little seed and coat after coat after coat of sugar, they become stronger and more colorful.”