This Power Woman Is Helping Others Create Their Own Story Within The Automotive Industry
Eleven years ago, Karen Lee received a congratulatory phone call from a woman she had never met before.
That person on the other end of the phone said: “You’re the first woman to be promoted to assistant service manager. We’re all behind you. You can open doors.”
It stood out to be the most pivotal moment in Karen’s career, and she has continued to hit her goals ever since.
“Any impact I have, whether it be positive or negative, isn’t just about me. It does affect other people, but I think it was at that point in my career I realized it’s time to put your big girl pants on, Karen, and really stay focused on ensuring the impact is a positive one.”
The industry is changing and has evolved since Karen first entered as a young go-getter high school student, and that’s what keeps her in the game. Today, Karen is part of the executive team as Director of Talent at Trotman Automotive. Her job oversees the hiring and training of new people, as well as creating programs and initiatives for existing staff. And she’s now helping others to create their own story within the automotive industry, like she is living hers.
“There is very little education about what sort of careers the industry offers individuals… There are various positions within a dealer environment that isn’t just selling a vehicle or repairing a vehicle.”
In her role, Karen is helping to show the array of opportunities dealerships offer, with positions ranging from accounting and marketing to graphic design and business development, and placing the right people in those roles. When Karen interviews, she doesn’t focus on the specific job individuals have applied for. Instead, she looks at their values, motivators and what their goals are.
“Individuals have ended up in positions that they didn’t think they necessarily were going to or that they didn’t think they had an opportunity to do so and have seen great success.”
She also works to dispel the stigma associated with car dealerships, of unethical sales and repairs. She sees the auto dealer sector as a people business more so than it is a vehicle business, as well as the importance of building and maintaining relationships with guests through transparency. To her, operating honestly and openly is the way to creating a successful business.
Karen has a larger than life personality and upon meeting her, it’s clear to see why she’s seen such a success in her own career.
“I never thought I’d be a Director of Talent. I never thought I’d be on the executive team necessarily. I just enjoyed what I did.”
Karen has found fulfillment from seeing the success and evolution of the people and departments around her, and is proud that she has been able to do what she wants to do and write her own story within the industry.
“Don’t let anyone tell you what your success is… success is what you make it, success is however you envision it, and don’t let anyone write your story for you.”
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