Sejal Pietrzak, 48
Location: Irving, Texas
Education: B.A., international relations, College of William and Mary; MBA, University of Pennsylvania
What drew you to the auto industry? When I joined DealerSocket three years ago, I was really impressed with how resilient the automotive industry has been, how entrepreneurial our dealerships have been. I was born in Detroit and raised for much of my childhood in the Detroit area, and uncles worked at the automotive companies and my sister has been in the automotive industry for a number of years. My cousins are now in the automotive industry, and so when I joined automotive at DealerSocket, it was essentially texts from my family saying, “Welcome, finally, to the automotive industry.”
First automotive job: It is DealerSocket and I started August of 2017.
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Big break: I think about my career not as one big break, but as sort of a series of accomplishments and successes and milestones that have helped me get to where I am today and have taught me quite a lot along the way. I had an opportunity to do in college a summer internship, and I interviewed for the role and I wasn’t selected for one reason or another. And I really wanted the opportunity to show the company why they should select me. And so I was persistent. I continued to call the head of the program multiple times to get feedback on what I could do to get that opportunity in my next summer internship. And I left him voice messages, but he didn’t call me back. And then one time I reached him, and he said, “You know what? I love your persistence, your perseverance. We’re going to find a spot for you this summer.” And that kind of commitment and dedication to learning from feedback in terms of what I could do better helped me gain confidence, gain that knowledge that it’s important to be persistent.
What is the major challenge you’ve faced in your career? I would say that the biggest challenge — not only for my career, but probably for many in this unprecedented time — is around the COVID crisis and how we’ve been managing it. One thing I will say is we’ve been doing quite a lot as we focus on helping our dealers continue to be resilient through this challenging time. As a company, we made the decision to do a number of relief packages during the heart of the COVID crisis beginning in April and May.
You’ve been in the industry three years. What has been the most important change you’ve seen? It has been very important and pleasant to see — and in a good way — that the automotive industry has been so welcoming of not only me and new ideas, but also welcoming to technology and really looking for that progressive technology, innovative technology, and everything that dealers are doing.
What have you learned from the COVID-19 crisis? It’s so important to be resilient. It’s so important to be willing to change and adapt and be flexible as we’ve all come to work from home. At DealerSocket, as we have been remotely caring for our dealers and supporting them because we haven’t been able to fly or travel, we have been really adaptable and flexible and the teams have been incredibly productive throughout the process. I’ve found that it’s the people that you have and the culture that you’ve built — that I’ve built, that we’ve built — at DealerSocket that has really helped us thrive through this.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently in your career? Everything that has happened in my career has led me to where I am now, so I don’t believe in regrets. I don’t believe you can ever go back and change anything, so I don’t look at it that way. I think I’ve learned from decisions I have made. I have certainly learned from areas of things that I’ve struggled through and found success.
What’s the best part of your day? All of our meetings are all video, and so I get to be able to see our team members and see people that I’m speaking with, whether it’s our dealers or our team members. These video calls have really changed the game. I enjoy seeing everybody in their home environment. I actually really like when sometimes our team members will have their babies that will come in and they’re holding them, or they’ll have their cat on their desk.
Are you able to achieve work-life balance? We’ve had some family goals that we have set. So one of our goals, and we didn’t used to do this because I travel so much, but we have had dinner together as a family five nights a week. There’s always a couple nights where it may not work out, but that has been something that I stop what I’m doing with work and we will have family time. And that has been really great, because I don’t bring my laptop to the dinner table, obviously, and I’m able to separate.
— Lindsay VanHulle