Keynote advises women in automotive to think ‘I am valuable, I’m intelligent, I’m an asset’

March 30, 2022
Women in Auto Care conference brought together 200 women from across the industry.

The Women in Auto Care annual leadership conference took place from March 23-25 in Indianapolis and brought together 200 women from across the auto care industry.

“I have two big goals: I want people to leave feeling empowered and engaged,” said Jessica Toliuszis, vice president of major accounts at Highline Warren and chair of the Women in Auto Care committee in her opening speech. “It’s important that our community feels very inclusive.”

Over the three days, the women heard from many different speakers, participated in networking events, and raised $30,175 for the association’s scholarship fund.

“On the technician side, less than two percent are females and we have a giant technician shortage so just imagine if we could fill that pipeline with some of the amazing women that we’re educating and elevating and giving scholarships to,” Toliuszis said.

Other conference highlights included a mentorship program for first-time speakers, “lightening talks” from previous Woman of the Year award winners, a session on imposter syndrome, a session on how to improve your public speaking skills, and an interactive exercise on determining your natural strengths as a leader.

Leading in a male dominated industry

The conference’s keynote speaker, Sherron Washington, president of marketing and communications agency The P3 Solution, spoke about leadership and effective communication. Her advice for leading in a male dominated industry? Get out of other people’s heads.

“I love this quote: ‘Other people’s thoughts about me is not my business.’ As women, we need [to think] ‘Hey I am here, I am valuable, I’m intelligent, I’m an asset, I know what I’m doing.’’ Washington said. “That’s all we need to think about — specifically in a male-dominated industry.”

When it comes to leadership, Washington recommends considering each individual on how to best manage them, rather than leading men one way and women another. For example, men are historically known as task-focused, but this may not be the case for all men on your team.

“Especially in this new normal, people change so much that you can have men who are not really task masters that you need to be able to lead. Maybe start looking at people as individuals and borrowing different leadership styles that are complimentary and productive for the individual,” she said.

Washington is also an expert in effective communication and her main advice for women is to be concise. It shouldn’t take longer than three sentences to explain something, she said.

“People’s attention span is very small. We are moving in so many directions and getting so much information that we need concise and specific,” Washington said. “Never assume people know what you’re talking about. Be as specific as possible. The goal of communication is that the other person understands — not that you get it off your chest, but so the other person understands your point of view.”

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