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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Jody DeVere

Jody DeVere CEO

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Cobalt GroupCobalt Group employs over 900 people and 40% of the workforce are women, many who hold high ranking positions of leadership. 135 women employees who contribute to the success of Cobalt in a wide variety of roles attended their first annual Women's Summit & Luncheon and a few guys were there, too, including CEO John Holt who co-founded the Cobalt Group in 1995.  I was so honored to be invited by Julia Pizzi who is the Vice President Human Resources to take part in the event as member of a panel of executive women.


John kicked off the event with an inspiring talk on the leadership model that Cobalt works to incorporate into the organization and encouraged the women attendees to reach high and higher. He spoke about his daughters and his determination to raise them all to feel like they can break through all barriers, including gender to reach their goals. He is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with his 14 year old daughter this month, what "higher goal"  is there for a father and daughter to experience together!

John_holt Cobalt has become a major partner to the North American automotive industry, providing marketing services to more than half the auto dealers in North America and nearly thirty automobile manufacturers under his leadership. I felt so honored to be a part of this first Cobalt women's summit and send BIG kudos to CEO John Holt for being a leader who has stepped up to seriously support women working in an industry that frankly is still Very male dominated. (Hope some other other automotive industry CEO's take notice and follow suit!). By the way they are always looking to hire more talented women in the Seattle area!


IMG_1228 There were female friendly products on hand in a vendor area, a beautiful view of Mount Rainier, the harbor in Seattle's port, great food and of course so many interesting women to meet and network with. Eileen McDargh was the main speaker and WOW does she have energy, enthusiasm, humor , charisma and really packed a powerful punch during the entire session to inspire all the attending women, including myself, to think out of the box. We were all energized by her energy! She recently hiked Mount Whitney so there must be something to this mountain climbing...I just got back from Mount Whitney myself but will save that story for another post. Check out her blog and website!

Eileen_Cobalt Eileen McDargh and the four esteemed women panelists who joined me on stage were  Robin Pisz, National Marketing Director for Lexus, Connie J. Adair, CEO of Winfield Taylor, Anna Zornosa, Executive Vice President and General Manger of Dealix, a divison of Cobalt and Gayle Crowell of the Technology, Media and Telecommunications Group of Warbury Pincus LLC. You can imagine it was a wonderful, insightful and lively panel. These women are all powerhouses and as we shared dinner the night before, our stories and spent time together at the event  I realized again how important it is for women to support one another and spend time lifting each other up and encouraging young up and coming women leaders. The entire event was first class and a delightfully refreshing experience for me as well.

The panelists were asked to discuss, comment and share on the following questions:

1. What are the top 3 things you did that you think allowed you to advance to the position you currently have?

2. Give us your best advice for how to increase our credibility and opportunity within a male-dominated environment. (Have you ever been in a situation where your felt your competency was questioned because of your gender and what would be the best way to handle this?)

3. Hindsight being 20/20, what is one thing that you wish you had done differently? ( a version of this is: What is the biggest mistake you ever made and what happened as a result?)

4. What , if any, are the trade-offs as a woman for ascending to your position? Do you have a family and if so—how do you handle it all without putting your family second—without hiring someone else to do “it” for you?

I would love to hear how YOU would answer these questions, please leave me your answers as a comment to this post.

Jody-devere_president_askpatty Jody DeVere
President and CEO


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Ralph Paglia
Paul brings up an important issue that I believe will continue to grow in significance, and in the number of people it impcts... I get to speak with a lot of Internet Sales Professionals and BDC Managers in dealerships throughout the country. They have a lot of questions and most of these questions are shared by their peers in other stores. In the past, where i would either review printed materials or download files from a USB drive, today i now bring these automotive professionals to various sites, usually relevant to their brand, where they can get access to email template suggestions, process maps, reports, spreadsheets, advice and so on... All of which is very valuable to these users and which is why I believe this type of online sharing of best practices, strategies and tactics will continue to grow in our industry... However, there are a lot fo risks that come with the free flowing exchange of ideas and techniques... Sometimes, various ideas posted are offered up for the wrong reasons, for example, to sell something of questionable value to dealers... Other times, the ideas or tactics posted are just plain counter-productive or can actually hurt a dealership's sales. But, then there is another category... When professionals like you, the person reading this, post an opinion, comment, or information that gets read by those who mean to do you harm, or simply misconstrue your contribution. Paul and I have had some fairly wide open debates with each other online, and that is both healthy and promotes the development of all involved, including people reading it... But, when unscrupulous individuals try to use a professional's comments, usually taken out of context, to accomplish negative or hurtful objectives, then that is when we experience the negative implications and risks around exercising freedom of speech. And, there are those of you who say "well, if you work for a company, then you must restrain from making statements that could be seen as reflecting your company's position or policy...". To which I would reply that is a fair statement, EXCEPT when the person posting it clearly states that he or she is expressing a personal opinion. Let me go on record right now that NOTHING I write, post, publish or enter into the online world of automotive blogging reflects what my employer's policies or opinions are... Maybe they do, maybe they don't... But what i write is from the heart and mind of Ralph Paglia and not a press release from my employer!!! Anyways, let's think about what we want to say before writing it to a bloog or online community, and let's choose our words in such a way that we each would be OK if our employer, our co-workers or our clients were to read it... because i can attest from personal experience that they probably will, and it will be that single sentence or poorly chosen word that is then used to hurt you! For those interested in reading some additional comments and thoughts about this subject, I invite you to take a look at the relevant forums at such as:
Tom White Jr.
Well said to both Paul and Ralph. Spirited debates are good. Personal attacks are bad. I agree that we should not post comments and opinions in haste simply because we are upset or otherwise predisposed to strike at another's opinion. Having said that, I think that events that have occured over the last several weeks have taught me that there is a time to stand up for what is right - regardless of what others may or may not think of it. I feel fortunate to have met and had conversations with many of you and learn something new every time. This is an absolutely amazing collection of brainpower. I think we are all in this for the same thing; namely the gaining of valuable experience, knowledge and friendships. In short, this is one hell of a group of people - and one hell of a group to cross. To respond to Paul's challenge directly - I am one hundred percent in the game! As always, just my two cents, for whatever they are worth.
Eric Miltsch
Very positive comments; together we have the ability to raise the bar even higher with regards to quality and professionalism.

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