Berta Phelps, 62
Vice President, Best Practices, Manheim
Education: B.S., business administration, Maria Rosengarten Business School, Bad Wurzach, Germany
What your college professors didn't teach you: "They didn't teach you to stick out your elbows and take up for yourself. I had a mother and grandmother who taught me that. They were both businesswomen."
First automotive job: Doing title work, arbitration, bookkeeping and other tasks at Columbus Auto Auction in Columbus, Ga., in 1967
Career highlights (all with Manheim)
- 1997-2001 Vice president, operations, Midwest region
- 1992-97 Vice president, business operations, Atlanta
- 1982-92 Assistant general manager, Atlanta Auto Auction
- 1970-82 Office manager, Atlanta Auto Auction
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "I was offered the job of Midwest regional vice president for Manheim. I was hesitant. I felt it would have been biting off more than I could chew.
"Eventually, I took the job. It was a challenge, but I mastered it."
Proudest achievement: "Over my career I have received two awards that showed how highly my peers thought of me. One was the Distinguished Service Award by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
"The other was from the National Auto Auction Association. It inducted me into its Hall of Fame last year."
Current challenge: "Before I fade into retirement, I'd like to see a national uniform (vehicle) title law. If all states would transfer title documents electronically, it could happen. But I don't think it will happen in my (career) time. I think it is 10 years out."
On being successful: "You have to be sincere and you have to stand by your convictions and gain the respect of your peers. And don't forget the hard work."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "How long it has taken the auto industry to accept women into its fold. I met my first women car dealers in the late '70s. They were few and far between, and most were daughters of new-car dealers. Women have made strides, but as a whole the percentages are very low."
What you do to relax: "I like to read. I have a house at the beach in Florida. I like to play in my pool and I love the ocean."