Penske Automotive Group is proud to have female leaders at every level of the organization. Every Thursday for the next 2 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 Gemma Tate!
Meet Gemma Tate – Head of Business, Sytner BMW/MINI Sunningdale & Ascot
“Always give yourself time to stand back and reflect.”
Industry experience: 11 years
First automotive job: Sales Executive at MINI store
PAG tenure: 11 years
Current role and responsibilities: I am responsible for motivating, driving and supporting our Sales & Aftersales Operations alongside my Senior Management Team. I strive to create an environment where the team delivers exceptional customer experiences and delivers a winning result because they are passionately proud of our business, not just because it’s in their job description.
What attracted you to the auto industry: I loved working in a sales environment where the results you achieved were a direct result of effort you put in. I also loved the feeling of helping someone realize their dream of owning a car. Having the opportunity to be part of that moment and make that experience truly special and personalized was a great feeling. Working in the auto industry connects you with people from all walks of life and it was very early on in my career that I realized this industry is all about people. If you can cause the people you work with and the customers you assist to be genuinely delighted, the inevitable effect is delighted manufacturers and shareholders.
Most satisfying part of your job: Helping people develop and grow is the most satisfying part of my job and that comes in many different shapes and sizes, from a Sales Apprentice cultivating and perfecting their first new car handover to a Senior Manager navigating their way through rapid digital evolution. Helping people take on a new challenge or face a significant change in process or circumstance and come out the other side a stronger, fitter individual is a special thing to be part of.
Proudest professional achievement: We have an annual management conference where exceptional performances are acknowledged by the most senior leaders in our company. Being on a stage, receiving an award and shaking hands with Roger Penske because of my own hard work was certainly a proud moment for me. There is also a sense of pride in being actively approached for some of the promotions I have enjoyed throughout my career. I am very lucky to have been encouraged and stretched by a team of directors who have helped me recognize my own potential and I continue to benefit from their incredible support and guidance.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career: My grandmother. Her early life certainly had its challenges, she lived through a war where she was evacuated twice, had her education forced to a premature halt and later became a young widow with two small children. Despite facing such adversity, she was determined to succeed in life. She taught me that no matter what life throws at you, if you want something enough, have a plan to achieve it and are prepared to put the hard work in, it can be yours. She did not let her circumstances affect her and focused on the things she could control, which is something I carry with me every day.
Best career advice: Working in a fast-paced environment with technology making our work accessible 24 hours a day, it is easy to fall into the trap of constantly being in “drive” mode. Whilst “drive” may be for some our most natural gear, it is important, I have learned, to have some “neutral” time. Dedicating time to reflect and write down my thoughts and priorities for the following day, helps me focus and improves my ability to give my team support and direction. Evaluation time gives me clarity on what is going well and what isn’t working, so I can see where change may be required. I’ve learned that if you don’t stop to check where you are on the map every so often, you could end up driving for miles in the wrong direction!
Advice for young women considering a career in the auto industry: Go for it! If you are anything like I was and think that you don’t know enough about cars to build a career in the auto-industry, then think again. The training and development that our company offers is industry leading. You will be given the tools you need to learn, and you will never stop learning as our business is constantly evolving. If you have the will to succeed, our company will help you develop the skill part.
Favorite weekend activity: I love being outdoors. Throughout the past 12 months, I, much like the rest of the country and the world, have learned to appreciate nature and wildlife. The areas of natural beauty that I was previously guilty of driving past without a second glance, I now take time to explore and appreciate. My partner and I enjoy walking our dog for hours on a Saturday and Sunday, finding a new place or route every time. It keeps us fit and keeps the dog occupied!
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years: As a new Head of Business, I know that I still have a lot to learn and experience. There are some areas within my business which are new to me and I plan on devoting the next 18 months to becoming intimate with every aspect of every department, whilst driving a divisional leading result in all areas. In that time, I also want to continue to develop the people around me to ensure career growth and succession from within. Following that, my ambition would be to become a Franchise Director.
How have you seen the auto industry landscape change and evolve to engage more women: I think the automotive landscape is, in some ways, unrecognizable to what it was 10 years ago. In my first role with Sytner I was the only female on our sales team. This was fascinating to me and I could not understand why more ladies hadn’t tapped into this amazing industry! It also felt unnatural that 50% of our customers were female, and yet our workforce didn’t mirror this same mix. Upon reflection, it was probably intimidating for females to walk into a male dominated showroom, let alone consider a career in the motor industry, at that time. Over time, I believe our business leaders have recognized the imbalance and have worked incredibly hard to encourage female colleagues to join our team. As a result, we have seen more women in varied roles in our businesses which has made the industry appear more accessible and appealing to females. Sytner has certainly created a more natural environment for customers and colleagues alike, and I am privileged to have worked with many inspirational females along the way. Different people, regardless of gender, bring different energies and strengths to a team and I believe having a balanced representation makes us all more productive. I am incredibly proud to be a female leader for Penske (Sytner) and I hope to continue to contribute to this company for many years to come.
Check back next Thursday as we add another Penske female leader to the Women in the Driver’s Seat series!