Kim Stonehouse, 38
Director of Automotive, US, Facebook
Location: Birmingham, Mich.
Education: B.A., communications, University of Pennsylvania
What drew you to the auto industry? My first job in digital, I was given the choice of going into consumer packaged goods or automotive. I remember simply making the decision based on an interest in the complexity of a vehicle purchase, just thinking that this is an industry that’s really rich with marketing problems to solve. My dad also happened to be the manager of our local power company’s fleet of vehicles. He was always in the garage. Something subliminal might have played a role. But, you know, once I took that job, I haven’t left the industry.
First automotive job: Back in 2006, and it was helping manufacturers and dealers onboard to [Google] Search for the first time and helping with that very, very new technology.
Big break: One area was, I got the opportunity to be in a global role pretty early on. And I would say there were some fast failures there, where I look back and I learned pretty quickly about some things like co-ownership, where I have this vivid memory of jumping into a London office with a very carefully architected plan and staring back at a group of people who couldn’t have been less interested. What that experience taught me was that, yes, I had done a lot of research, but I didn’t bring people along. I wasn’t as curious as I should be about other perspectives.
What is the major challenge you’ve faced in your career? At the intersection of automotive and technology, a major thread has been the challenge of dealing with change. I would say that’s even ramped up in the last three to four years.
You’ve been in the industry 14 years. What has been the most important change you’ve seen? What we’re going through right now, which is really the shift to online shopping and sales, is the biggest shift [and] the fastest shift that I’ve seen. I’m referring to going from very few brands having a way for people to shop from home to now, it’s very few who don’t have that capability. From a consumer standpoint, seeing that twice as many people are interested and preferring to shop and buy online than just a few months ago.
What work achievement are you most proud of? I’ll give you two answers. One is when someone on my team gets promoted because that means I’ve done a decent job of representing their accomplishments, and that means that they’re in the right place and they’re thriving. That brings a massive smile and feeling of accomplishment to my face. The other area of accomplishment that’s been meaningful for me and rewarding is anytime we’ve been able to crack a deeper understanding of consumer behavior. I know some of my past roles, I’ve been more focused on consumer research and bringing that to bear for different partnership teams. I recall a few accomplishments in that space as we were trying to understand how to people search when I was at Google. Recently, at Facebook, we’ve been really digging into this idea of discovery commerce, the next wave of expectations that people have, which means people now expect, because the tools are so good online, for the right products to come to them.
What have you learned from the COVID-19 crisis? One of the things that we started doing early on that I think has been helpful is recognizing that people are experiencing it so differently. There are some people [where] working from home and not traveling has been a boost to their family life and has really been positive, and they don’t want to go back, and you have people who have been deeply and tragically affected in terms of health in their family. We’ve instituted this thing where we try to open conversations, one-on-ones [and] meetings like that with, “How is the weather for you today?” Just a simple metaphor of, is the sun shining in your world right now, is it kind of a drizzle, or is it a hurricane? It’s a common language to have that conversation and to have that conversation before we dive into all of the work stuff.
How do you bring your best self to work? Well, one thing I have to do is go for a run. That’s a big part of it for me. I try to take 15 minutes for a cup of coffee before I dive into the day and just try to focus in on — and this is something that I’ve stolen from I don’t know how many business experts — but just the idea of, before you look in your inbox, what are the few things that you’re trying to accomplish that day?
If there were 25 hours in a day, how would you spend your extra hour? I would love to have an hour in a total vacuum to play with my kids and my husband — vacuum meaning I can’t possibly have any distractions. I think that’s something that I’m always working on and a lot of working parents work on, which is not only having the time, but not being distracted.
— Vince Bond Jr.