Every five years, Automotive News publishes its list of the 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry.
If you haven't spent time with the profiles of this year's honorees, I encourage you to do so. The women leaders on this year's list — who represent dealerships and retail technology companies, among others — are candid and insightful about their career paths, their triumphs and roadblocks and the biggest changes they've seen in the auto industry over the years they have worked in it.
A shared thread was technology.
What long has been viewed as an industry dominated by men — motor oil and sheet metal — is now embracing technology and the ways in which it can improve the user experience. Several of the Leading Women honorees say women bring particular strengths that could help those areas flourish — everything from the design and functionality of a vehicle to the way consumers buy cars and engage with brands.
"Consumers have always really embraced the digital experience in their shopping experience," Kerri Wise, vice president of communications for vehicle listings company TrueCar and a member of this year's Leading Women class, told me in an interview. "There's been a lag from an auto retail standpoint, or maybe a resistance in the past, to necessarily moving towards that."
The pandemic clearly gave the industry a push in that direction. And some Leading Women say the digital evolution has been exciting to watch.