A clear set of goals has guided Margot Miller throughout her career. Now she aims to help her team members achieve their own aspirations.
Miller was on track to study hospitality management, but the university she planned to attend relocated. "I felt like I had my career plan and then everything changed," she said.
Then her career took a turn she had never considered. She began selling cars at a Toyota dealership, and "after about two weeks of seeing the opportunities available, I was sold," she said.
Over 11 months, she climbed the ranks to finance and insurance. She eventually took a position with Ford Motor Co.'s MarketSource, an Allegis Group company, where she represented MarketSource's extended-service contracts and worked with dealers to train their F&I departments.
Damian Mills, CEO of Mills Auto Group, was one of her clients at the time. He had two Ford stores, and his company was growing "at a pace where he needed a corporate finance director," Miller's dream job, she said. When Mills asked what Miller's ultimate goal was, she told him she wanted to be a corporate finance director, adding "It looks like you're getting close to needing one."
A year later, she landed her current role: Mills Auto Group's corporate finance director and chief compliance officer. She manages the F&I departments of nine rooftops in South Carolina, North Carolina and Maryland. Since she started two years ago, the group's F&I income has grown 31 percent, focusing more on F&I product sales while reducing the reliance on dealer reserve.
Her favorite part of her job is helping employees develop their career paths. With that comes "identifying the next generation of leadership," she said.
"People above you invest in you and want to make you better," she said. "Then you want to do it for those below you."
About a year and a half ago, Miller started the Women in Automotive Leadership Group, which holds a quarterly meeting for Mills Auto Group's female associates. "A lot of women count themselves out before they give it a try," she said.
She says forming the group has been one of the most rewarding aspects of her work because it gives women a forum to discuss how to move up in their careers and navigate through potential challenges.
Miller says her involvement and investment in the women's leadership group will continue, though her career could change. Miller's current long-term career goal, she says, is "to move into a variable operations director role."