For many women, the path to the automobile is indirect

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Francine Floreani didn’t let her lack of automotive know-how stop her from seizing the opportunity to manage an Ontario dealership.

Floreani, master dealer at Great Lakes Honda in Sault Ste. Marie, credits her administrative and customer service experience with helping her move more than ten years ago.

“You don’t need to know anything about cars. It can help, but it’s not a prerequisite, Floreani said.

“You can be a service advisor, you can sell cars, you can be a technician, you can work in accounting, you can do social media. These are all things that are open to young women who want to work in the industry.

Floreani joined two other panelists on April 12 at the Women Driven virtual event hosted by the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, which represents more than 1,000 franchised new-vehicle dealers in Ontario.

For many women, the road to the automobile can be a tortuous one. And by perceiving a lack of car knowledge as a barrier to a career in the industry, women are doing themselves a disservice, according to Jennifer Okoeguale, regional marketing manager at Toyota Canada Inc.

“There are so many opportunities and I truly believe everyone has a role to play, no matter what skills you bring to the table or your interests, said Okoeguale, who came into the industry through her experience. in communication, during the panel.

“You learn by osmosis… Once you’re in space, naturally you’re going to start learning about cars, because that’s what you work with day in and day out.”

Having women on staff also helps put customers at ease, Floreani said. She cited Great Lakes Honda’s service manager as an example.

“When the women come in…they really like having a relationship with her because she can understand their needs, they feel like they can tell her what their problem is.”

This dynamic has also changed what dealerships and automakers are looking for when hiring, said Christine Mitchell, president of The Car Lady Canada, which helps women in the car buying experience and helps dealers improve customer loyalty.

“Women are wanted – really, really wanted. So it’s not so much a bias anymore, we’re actually in a strong position for the first time in automotive history.

While the opportunities are industry-wide, Okoeguale said the demand for those with a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) background is particularly sought after.

“Whether it’s working on the line in a manufacturing plant, actually building that product, or maybe you’re working at the corporate level in a product planning role trying to understand the product, or servicing the product at a dealership, STEM education is going to be a very important factor.

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