Sheila Vaden-Williams, 46
President, National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers
Education: B.A., economics, Fisk University; J.D., Harvard University
First automotive job: Executive director of NAMAD in 1995
Most fun automotive job: "The assignment that has been gratifying is being able to help provide access and opportunity for ethnic minorities in the lucrative automotive industry."
- 1995-2001 Executive director, National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers, Lanham, Md.
- 1993-94 CEO, Vaden, Williams & Associates Inc., Lanham, Md.
- 1990-93 Law associate, Ginsburg, Feldman & Bress, Washington
Biggest mistake and what you learned: "My biggest mistake was assuming that people would do the right thing about inclusion as long as you could make a good business case for it. When you begin to talk about reapportioning access, wealth, power and influence, there is a very irrational, emotional component to it."
Proudest achievement: "The role I played in introducing the 15 percent formula for success (a plan that calls for manufacturers to have at least 15 percent of their dealerships owned by ethnic minorities) to the automotive industry."
Current challenge: "Helping manufacturers and other dealer organizations to understand that our goals (NAMAD's and theirs) are completely aligned. If the goal is to be profitable and to exceed customers' expectations, then every manufacturer should want to work lock step with us because our goals are completely aligned."
Job to which you aspire: "I would love to be the CEO of a development institute that has a finance arm to finance dealers and a program to identify next-generation dealers at an early stage and immerse them in experiences they would need to become successful dealers."
What you do to relax: "Spend time with my family and my savior, Jesus Christ."