Penske Automotive Group is proud to have female leaders at every level of the organization. Every Thursday for the next 9 weeks, we will feature a female leader from the Penske organization who is empowering women in the industry and paving the road for the next generation of female leaders. From their earliest interest in the industry to their proudest moments, you’ll learn how these women got their start, who influenced them the most, and how they are helping change the face of the industry in positive ways.
This week we are pleased to introduce Sandra Walters!
Meet Sandra Walters – Finance Manager, CarShop Chester Springs
“Have confidence, work hard, and challenge yourself to learn as much as possible. When you start feeling comfortable in your current position challenge yourself to learn something new. Be a sponge. The more you know, the more valuable you are.”
Industry experience: 14 years
First automotive job: Receptionist at CarShop (formerly CarSense)
PAG tenure: 14 years
Current role & responsibilities: I support our sales team by providing customers with competitive financing arrangements for vehicle and aftermarket product purchases. It is my responsibility to assist customers with their financing, maintain excellent working relationships with our lenders, and ensure a timely month-end close for all finance deals.
What attracted you to the auto industry: l grew up around it. My dad worked in the automotive industry for 36 years and I watched him climb the ladder and have a very successful career. I thought, why can’t I do that too?
Most satisfying part of your job: Getting a difficult deal approved for financing. Anyone can send an application over to the banks and get a simple yes or no. Where the real skill comes in is turning that no into a yes. It takes years of experience, the power of persuasion, and building great relationships with our lenders. I love nothing more than turning those deals around, especially when that customer has been turned down at other dealerships.
Proudest professional achievement: I am most proud of having held the titles of both finance manager and sales manager. The fact that I was able to go from the manager of one department to another, be successful, and then go back to the first department over a year later without skipping a beat gave me a real sense of accomplishment.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career: Kirk Schrader. He was the GM of the store when I started as a sales consultant and is now the President of the company. He gave me my first opportunity in management and over the years has encouraged and supported me like his own daughter.
Best career advice: If you don’t ask the answer will always be no. About a year after I started as a sales consultant the current finance manager of the 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 throughout my career.
Favorite weekend activity: Spending quality time with my husband and my daughter.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years: I want to be an inspiration for my daughter. She is only 1 ½ years old and already tries to copy everything I do. I hope years from now she still looks up to me as a great role model. I want to constantly keep learning, growing, and trying new things. I hope one day to be a General Manager of a store or a finance corporate trainer as we acquire new stores across the country.
How have you seen the auto industry landscape change and evolve to engage more women: When I first started as a sales consultant 11 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!
Check back next Thursday as we add another Penske female leader to the Women in the Driver’s Seat series!