Women in Retail: Carla Wade of automotiveMastermind
By Auto Remarketing Staff
Auto Remarketing: What do you enjoy most about working in retail automotive, and what would you change?
Carla Wade: When I reflect on the last two decades I’ve spent in the automotive industry, the word “opportunity” comes to mind. Throughout my career, I learned the importance of stepping outside my comfort zone to explore new opportunities and create my own.
Now I’m in a role where I can share everything I’ve learned along the way to empower others — both on my own team and our dealer partners’ teams — to create their own opportunities in their respective roles. At times I’ve had to pave my own path in the retail space, so I believe it’s critical to recognize the importance of representation and a broadened perspective to keep the industry moving in the right direction.
This means taking a moment to reassess who has a seat at the table and what that table even looks like. Recognizing what’s missing is the first step to driving much-needed change – followed by putting the right people in the right roles and empowering them to succeed.
AR: What is the top trend you’re watching in retail automotive this year?
Wade: With all the challenges and disruptions impacting the industry over the last two years, I’m continually impressed by dealers’ ability to do more with less. In my current role, I’m working with smaller-scale dealerships and I’ve personally had the opportunity to see how nimble they can be. With less inventory and, in many cases, less staff, successful dealers have begun creating efficiencies and relying on high-quality data to deliver the same exceptional customer experience buyers expect, regardless of the external factors in play.
AR: What piece of career advice would you give your younger self?
Wade: Self-doubt can be the destructor of determination and the dampener of drive. Several times I allowed my own doubts to block me from choosing new opportunities, thinking I was not right for a role because I saw no one like me in the role.
Throughout my career, I often found myself the only woman or person of color in the room and at times battled with believing that was my seat. This was until I met other examples of great women leaders who served as my beacon. Therefore, I would tell my younger self to push aside the doubt, always believe in yourself, and know you, too, belong.
AR: What has been the top key to your success in retail automotive?
Wade: Above all else, passion, grit, and tenacity have been the key ingredients to a successful multi-decade career in the automotive retail industry. Of course, when faced with challenges or self-doubt, carrying on and ultimately doing what was right wasn’t always easy, but following the beacon of my mentors and peers, perseverance enabled me to get to where I am today. I’m humbled by the opportunity to share this advice with my colleagues, industry friends, and customers each day.