Donna Wassel, 46
Regional Vice President and General Manager, Atlanta Region, CarMax
Education: B.S., food science, University of Florida; M.S., business and technology, University of Alabama, Huntsville
What your college professors didn't teach you: "That interpersonal skills and the human side of the business is as critical and at times, more critical, than the technical side."
First automotive job: Store manager trainee at CarMax in 1996
Career highlights (all with CarMax)
- 1999-2004 Regional vice president and general manager, Southwest region
- 1997-99 Location general manager
- 1996-97 Management trainee
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "Hanging on to something that is not working out, believing that you can still make it work."
Proudest achievement: "Getting my master's degree."
Current challenge: "Having a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old."
On being successful: "I allow people to do their jobs, and I hold them accountable. I allow my managers to manage."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "The way customers are treated in this industry - not treated with respect, the games, the pressure and the tactics."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "It is a business that revolves around consumer products like any other retail business, and don't be intimidated by it."
Job to which you aspire: "I aspire to take on more responsibility and continue to grow my influence in the company."
What you do to relax: "I have a pretty busy family life. We go boating and spend a lot of time outdoors."