Maggie Whitman, 32
Regional controller, Hendrick Consolidated Accounting
Maggie Whitman joined the auto industry on a whim.
“I had no ties to it,” she said. She had just earned her master’s in accounting and expected she’d work for a firm.
But as soon as she started a job in the audit department at Hendrick Automotive Group, it felt like home.
She was promoted to senior accounting manager at Hendrick Consolidated Accounting at age 27. Whitman became the regional controller when she was 29 after she helped build the company’s accounting model.
“My mentor wanted to make sure that whoever got the position was the most comfortable fit for the job and the person who was the leader already,” she said. “Being so young, that the company trusted me meant more than the title.”
Whitman and her team consolidated the accounting offices for 24 dealerships, mostly in the Charlotte market. Each dealership has a senior accounting manager, but the regional controller handles the financial statements to help manage people and processes. The Charlotte accounting office, under Whitman’s leadership, is the largest in the dealership group.
The group has consolidated stores that are more than 300 miles apart. “Using technology, we can provide the same support to those dealerships as we do for the one across the street,” Whitman said.
The company can post a transaction as it’s completed so that dealerships have access to live data, she said. Through the revamped accounting process, the group has halved its paper use and aims to become completely paperless.
Whitman said her personal beliefs align with the innovative culture of Hendrick Automotive Group.
“The organization is really good at letting us try new things and processes and do things differently,” Whitman said. “There’s a lot of energy in the automotive industry as a whole.”
Whitman strives to provide a “dealership environment” to anyone interacting with her accounting office, she said. “My biggest thing is that we take care of our people,” she said. “If your employees are happy, then your customers will be happy, and everything will work well.”
Whitman’s goal is to, with her team, create an industry model out of Hendrick’s consolidated accounting services.
Hendrick has each accounting function managed by a subject matter expert.
“We now have a processing center that works like a machine,” she said. “The dealership operation team can function knowing each piece in accounting is moving and being handled by an expert.”
The regional accounting offices can give stores real-time information on their costs and share best practices from other stores within the group, she said.
“We created an environment that people are excited about,” she said.
— Sarah Kominek