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Victoria Rusnak

Rusnak Auto Group

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CEO , Rusnak Auto Group
Pasadena, Calif.
Age: 47
Education: B.S., business administration, University of Southern California.; J.D., Gonzaga University; L.L.M., environmental law, George Washington University

What attracted you to the auto industry? I was attracted to the auto industry while working on legal matters for our family's organization and saw the opportunity to be part of the bigger operation and succession plan for our family's business.

First automotive job: Selling cars when I was 18. I'll never forget the first time I got a commission for selling a used car. I was hooked.

Big break: I can't recall a big break. However, there have been many hurdles overcome that have propelled me in my career.

What is the major challenge you've faced in your career? To find a balance between my personal and work life. That's my hurdle. Between juggling my career, my children and my private time, I've come to see they're all so connected that it's essential to make time for each one in order to be successful in all.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career? My father has had the biggest influence because he supported me through all of my education and the various paths I've taken throughout my career.

What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry? Automotive News is doing a good job. I wish more publications would do that. The most important way to encourage women to get into the car business is to talk about the many opportunities in every given setting publicly. It's important to break the stereotypes of the car business only being for men. It is a sophisticated and professional career that affords advancement and financial reward.

Tell us about your family. I'm very privileged to be a first-generation American and owe my parents a great deal of appreciation and respect for paving the way for me to find success in my life. I hope to instill in my own children the importance of education and hard work to open doors for their future.

What's your favorite weekend activity? My favorite thing to do is travel. There's nothing I like more than being out in the world, meeting people, experiencing different cultures. I love going to sporting events. On the weekends, what I love to do is walk my dog on the beach and play Scrabble. I do travel a lot. I enjoy traveling to countries that live differently than we do in the United States. I've spent a lot of time in Asia, Europe. I'm just about to go to Sri Lanka. I love to go to places like that because when I come back, I realize what's important and what's not important and how to inspire others to see the bigger picture.

Are you able to maintain friendships? Absolutely. Without those friends and relationships, I don't feel my career would have gotten as far as it has. I know it wouldn't have. Not without lack of effort, but all friends take effort.

Name one thing about yourself that most people don't know. I've always wanted to be an ambassador to a foreign country. I made a go at politics with my candidacy for California State Assembly in 2012. While at this point I've turned my back on political office, I'm still raising my hand for ambassadorship.

By Amy Wilson

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