Shane Oldham, 39
Vice president of finance for the eastern region, AutoNation Inc.
Lessons learned on the gridiron have carried over to the corporate realm for AutoNation’s Shane Oldham.
Oldham, vice president of finance for the dealership group’s eastern region, had his college football career at the University of Tennessee at Martin cut short by injury, but the insights from his experiences live on.
“You have to persevere, and it takes a team to be successful,” Oldham said. “We all have a job, and we all have different athletic abilities, but one thing we internally have is the opportunity to work hard. Whoever works the hardest tends to win. If you apply that to your professional life, you’re going to be successful.”
Oldham is still reveling in that team atmosphere, but his squad is bigger these days.
The territory he’s responsible for grew this year when AutoNation restructured. Oldham went from overseeing a third of the country as vice president of finance for the central region to half when he assumed responsibility for the eastern region.
Although he has an office in AutoNation’s headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Oldham said he spends around 70 percent of his time on the road visiting dealerships to get a view of their day-to-day operations.
“When decision-making happens, I’m going to be fully informed on what it really means for their everyday life,” Oldham said. “You’ve got to be clearly grounded in each decision.”
Oldham’s foray into the auto business happened as the football chapter of his life closed.
He said his physical therapist connected him with Taylor Automotive, a dealership owned by her husband and his family in Martin, where he was hired part-time to wash vehicles.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree and while working on his MBA, Oldham was hired by Taylor Automotive as a part-time accounting assistant. He was promoted to controller a few months later. He said the company “supported me through graduate school in every way, including paying my tuition.”
Oldham, a married father of one, has spent 14 years with AutoNation and has been promoted eight times during a tenure that has required him to move several times.
In his latest role, Oldham said he has “implemented productivity targets for all major positions to focus on hours worked and what is accomplished during each hour.” This allows operational partners, he said, “to win the hour and not focus on winning the whole month.”
With such a vast territory to manage, Oldham said communication is one of his biggest challenges.
“I have a clear communication platform to make sure everybody understands clearly the direction, and also, I can take the communication back from them. It’s a two-way street,” he said. “Am I hearing the right needs in the field and am I addressing them in a timely enough manner to be successful? The great leaders here and the people I work directly with help with that, but it’s something I have to work at every day to make sure communication is clear, concise and aligns with the goals we’re trying to accomplish.”
— Vince Bond Jr.