Last week, Automotive NewsLeading Women Network celebrated its 20th year of meeting and mentoring women in the automotive industry. The event was held in Dallas at the new Toyota Motors North American headquarters in Plano, Texas, and was attended by some of the most influential and experienced female automotive executives. Representatives from manufacturing, supply chain, tech, finance and other sectors gathered for two days of training, keynote sessions, mentoring workshops and networking. The Dallas event was sold out and simulcast to anyone who wished to stream. 

Automotive News began the Leading Women Network 20 years ago, conceiving of a platform where women could share their experiences and advice in navigating and thriving in a historically male-dominated business culture. The network now has over 500 members and grew from originally meeting every 5 years to meeting twice a year in locations across the country.

The event’s key theme was “Take the Lead,” a charge to the many attendees to take the next step in their careers, connect with other women and diverse professionals, and be instrumental in the changes of today. A subtler theme throughout the entire conference was change—changing perceptions of women in the automotive world, changing the disparity in pay, changing the way employers pursue and make welcome qualified candidates, and much more. The event was symbolically opened by Automotive News’ new associate publisher, the first female to ever hold the title, Karen Rentschler.  

Solera AutoPoint was the lead sponsor of Tuesday morning’s mentoring session where young women from the Dallas area had the opportunity to engage with female leaders and ask questions that would help them prepare for college and successful careers. The session was led by Foundation for C.H.O.I.C.E., a nonprofit organization focused on preparing motivated and goal-oriented students for educational success. Some of the exceptional students attending the session are already on their way to earning associate degrees in a variety of fields, or have been taking college courses for credit—a few as young as freshmen.

Key takeaways from the Leading Women Network 2019 meeting:

  • Kim Pittel, group vice president at Ford: “We are not where we need to be as an industry pertaining to women in leadership.” Pittel also said that Ford is at 20% female managers and it’s “not nearly good enough.”
  • Katee Van Horn, CEO of Bar the Door Consulting, offered a tip for inclusion: When you hold a meeting, send the agenda first to give introverts time to think about what they may want to say.
  • Sandra Phillips Rogers, group vice president at Toyota: “The auto industry’s journey to inclusiveness will be aided by coming changes in mobility. Women can get in on the ground floor.”

The network’s 2nd event in 2019 will be hosted in Detroit in October. Don’t miss your change to register
as this will most likely sell out again! And catch up on our last post where we celebrated the women who took the lead and changed the automotive industry forever.

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