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Penske 2022 Women in the Driver’s Seat: Sandra Walters

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Every Thursday for the next few months, we will feature a new female leader from around the globe, highlighting their career achievements, biggest influences, and the advice they would give to other young women considering a career in the automotive industry.


Meet This Week’s Leader: Sandra Walters, General Manager, CarShop

If you don’t ask, the answer will always be ‘no.’

First Automotive Job: Receptionist

PAG Tenure: 15 years

What attracted you to the automotive industry? I grew up around the automotive industry. My dad worked in the industry for 36 years. I watched him climb the ladder and have a highly successful career. I thought, ‘why can’t I do that too?’

Most satisfying part of your job: The challenge of turning problems into possibilities. I love coming up with creative solutions to help my team succeed.

Proudest professional achievement: Becoming the first female general manager at CarShop. It is still at times rare to see women in senior management positions in the auto industry. I am incredibly proud to be the one to pave the way for the company’s future female leaders.

Who was the biggest influence in your career? Our President of CarShop, Kirk Schrader. He was the GM of the store when I started as a sales consultant. He gave me my first opportunity in management. Over the years he has always encouraged and supported me like his own daughter.

Looking back on the last decade, how have you seen the automotive industry landscape change and evolve to engage more women? When I first started as a sales consultant 12 years ago, I was one of only two women on the sales floor. I remember there were no women’s uniforms, and the polos went down to my knees. Now everywhere you look in the auto industry females are prevalent. Almost every department has women in it which is amazing to see. I am proud to work for a company that recognizes individuals based on talent not just gender. And yes, now we even have women’s uniforms!

What hobbies do you enjoy? When I am not at work, you will find me spending quality time with my family. I am incredibly blessed with a supportive husband and two daughters, Marlena and Madison.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years? I want to be an inspiration for my daughters. My oldest is three years old and she tries to copy everything I do. I hope years from now they both look up to me as a great role model. I want to constantly keep learning, growing, and trying new things. With PAG, I know the sky is the limit!

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in the automotive industry? There are two key elements to being successful in this industry: Positivity and Perseverance. Approach every situation with a “Great News!” attitude and refuse to take no for an answer.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? If you don’t ask, the answer will always be ‘no.’ About a year after I started as a sales consultant the finance manager for our store left. Having a business degree, I was super interested in the position. I went to my dad to talk to him about the opportunity. He told me “If you want the job, go ask for it!” I went right up to the office of the General Manager of the store and did just that. The very next day I was told “Congratulations, you’re our new finance manager.” I have used this advice many times throughout my career journey.

 

 

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