Kitty Van Bortel, 51
President and General Manager, Van Bortel Subaru and Van Bortel Ford Inc.
Education: Bachelor's, psychology, Wells College
What your college professors didn't teach you: "Cash flow. It is the number one thing you need to know in the automobile business."
First automotive job: Salesperson at Ridley Ford in Webster, N.Y., in 1977
Most fun automotive job: "Turning around my Ford dealership and making it successful."
- 1985-91 Owner, Van Bortel Motor Car, Victor, N.Y.
- 1982-85 Sales manager, John Holts Organization Inc., Rochester, N.Y.
- 1980-82 Finance manager, Bill Gordon Chevrolet, Rochester, N.Y.
- 1977-80 Salesperson, then sales manager, Palmyra Motors, Palmyra, N.Y.
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "I lost control of my used-car business, and it cost me a ton of money. I thought the manager was OK, but I was not watching him, and he got me into serious trouble. Inventory went from $1 million to $2 million overnight. I learned two things: Make sure you hire a smart used-car manager and check used-car inventory every single day."
Proudest achievement: "Becoming number one with Subaru nationally; also, having my daughter."
Current challenge: "Turning my Ford dealership around and making it successful has been the most fun and most challenging job in the last four years."
On being successful: "You don't need to be ruthless to be successful and get ahead. There is an alternative. You can be successful and kind-hearted."
What about the auto industry surprised you: "The fact that there are so few women in the business to this day. That does really surprise me."
What women need to know for success in the auto industry: "You need to work incredibly hard. ... Keep forging ahead."
Job to which you aspire: "I want to be the largest Ford dealer in the region. I have been in the top 20 out of about 300."
What you do to relax: "I play with my daughter, read and run."