What attracted you to the auto industry? What I love most is the people. They are absolutely passionate about this industry and cars and that inspires me — not just our employees but clients.
First automotive job: CEO of Chase Auto Finance in 2013
Big break: I had two breaks. One was interning in college at INROADS, a program for talented minorities. It provided me exposure into finance services and it taught me not only the work but the soft skills that you need. The second was running a P&L for the mortgage industry for Chase. That was a great break that helped me become a CEO.
What is the major challenge you’ve faced in your career? Becoming a CEO in the auto space in 2013 was both challenging and rewarding. It was challenging; there were a lot of unknowns — interest rates, the policy community in Washington as well as the competitive landscape.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career? Rosie and Otis Brown, my parents. They were great role models. My mother is a retired educator and father was a stock handler, a blue collar worker at Xerox for over 40 years. They taught me to always reach for the moon because even if I miss, I will be among the stars. It really resonates — I could never have dreamt about being a CEO in the auto industry. But I am always dreaming and always asking myself what can I do better, how can I be a better leader and how can I make a bigger impact in the lives of others?
I have just launched the Otis and Rosie Brown Foundation — extraordinaryis.org. I always wanted to give my parents their roses while they were alive. My parents were the ones who would cheer for people who didn’t have people to attend their games and my father would be a father to people who didn’t have a dad. That made an impact in people’s lives. For me, it’s to be able to carry that legacy in a broader way, to help people to understand we all have the ability to be extraordinary.
The whole premise around the foundation is to seed people’s extraordinary. If someone gives gift baskets to college students, we seed them so that they can give more gift baskets. It is ordinary people who do extraordinary things.
Tell us about your family. My husband is Richard Duckett. We have been married 11 years. He is an engineer, a Marine and a stay-at-home dad. That is a great example, having a spouse saying a woman can provide in the professional world and I can provide in all the other areas, and it works. Good husbands are the secret sauce.
I have two children: Madison is 9 and Myles is 7. We live in Connecticut.
What keeps you up at night? I am always dreaming and thinking about what more? We are trying to adopt a child and I started a foundation. I want to live a purposeful life. My success is not defined by my title but my purpose, which is inspiring others.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Oprah
What’s your guilty pleasure? Watching “Scandal” on TV. I love her fashion.
Name one talent you wish you had. If I could sing or dance. I have no rhythm. I was at a hip-hop class in Greenwich and I was so lost.
Best advice you’ve ever gotten? Reach for the moon because even if you miss you are among the stars.
By Diana T. Kurylko