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Kathy Gilbert

Kathy Gilbert Director of Sales & Business Development

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Women: We’re Stronger Together

One of the projects I’m proudest of is the annual Women in Automotive conference. Our summer conference took place last weekend in Orlando, FL, and the theme was one of my favorites: “Stronger Together.” I was struck by the inspiring keynote and breakout sessions and learned so much from the 350 other attendees. Here are some of my biggest takeaways:

It’s No Secret: Women are Key

Everyone at the conference— men, women, speakers, companies and sponsors — highlighted the importance women play in a changing industry. We have a lot of momentum, but everyone was pragmatic in realizing that we still have a long way to go. So, how do we get there?

Embrace Creativity & Boldness

Change, especially in the face of opposition, complacency or adversity, demands boldness. The industry needs women to step into the unknown and create their space. One of the speakers drilled the importance of not being owned by the fear of rejection. As women, we need to embrace the unknown and be willing to step forward — even when we don’t know all of the answers. We have to know our strengths and be prepared to stand up, speak up and step up. Creativity itself is an act of defiance. We have the opportunity to disrupt the status quo and share new ideas that can change our businesses in positive ways, but we have to be brave enough to share our ideas and keep moving forward.

Acknowledge Your Role

A few of the speakers honed in on the idea of understanding where you are in your career and how that impacts your ability to enact change. Dan Flynn, CDK Global president, North America, spoke about how you can drive change in your organization in every stage of your career. For instance, he shared how those early in their careers may not have the opportunity to mold an entire organization, but they do have the responsibility to bring new ideas to the table and be champions of change.

I was also struck by the idea that there’s a fine line between those that can help and those that need help. As professionals, we all need to identify which side of the line we’re on; help those when you can and ask for help when you need it. I’m fortunate that I’m at the point in my career where I can help others by mentoring, coaching and lending an ear. I am very passionate about helping people, particularly women, find their voice and achieve their personal and professional goals.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

It seems like things are moving and changing at a rapid pace. In order to stay ahead of the game, you have to work smarter, not harder. The first thing you should do is strategize – set goals and create a plan to reach your goals. Once you’re headed in the right direction, focus and don’t let yourself get distracted by the noise around you. Finally, commit to the plan. Make the investment of your time, money and energy to work your plan and see the success come to life.

I learned so much during the conference, but the message that resonated with me the most was this: “Everything you go through in life is a part of the journey. Embrace it.” I’m so proud to be on this journey with so many other strong women who are boldly working to make this industry better.

Anne Fleming

Kathy, great article. I appreciate your recap about WIA. I was out of the country and its wonderful to get hear some of the top-down discussions and highlights about the topics on hand. Thank you. 

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