Many career paths for women in the trade

With August being Women’s Month and just recently, the 9th of August being a public holiday to celebrate women, Dealerfloor approached Sally McNaughton, a Director of the Kelston Group, about her role in the well-known motoring group and what the future holds for women in the motor trade.

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1: What is your current position and responsibility within the Kelston Group?

Finance Director, I am responsible for producing our monthly financial results, ensuring adequate controls and procedures are in place to address potential risk areas. I also take care of budgeting, managing cash flow, preparing forecasts and providing information and analysis to fellow directors.

2: How and when did your journey in the motor trade start and was it always smooth sailing?

Officially, my motor industry journey started on 1 May 2012 when a position became available at Kelston while I was on secondment in New York. Unofficially, my journey started when my dad bought his first dealership in 1996. The motor industry became “part of the family” at that point.

There have been some tough moments. The motor industry can be quite volatile at the best of times, but the greatest lessons are learnt during those difficult moments, and it is those lessons learnt that ultimately help build a more resilient business in the long term.

3: The Kelston Group has a woman Dealer Principal, three senior women managers in the group and various women in sales, after-sales and women technicians. It seems women are well represented in all the major aspects of the business.

Yes, every woman employed at Kelston is an asset to our company and adds value to the overall success of the business. Your position within Kelston is based on your abilities, experience and work ethic.

4: Do you think there are enough women interested or entering the motor retail sector or is it still one of the industries that women think might not have enough opportunities for them?

I do not think that the motor industry is the first thought for most women to become involved in, but I do think that once a woman does become involved in the industry, she would find it very hard to leave.

It is really exciting, with technology and career opportunities changing all the time. I believe it is an industry that has a place for anyone who is willing to work hard, and it has so many prospects for growth, both professionally and personally.

5: Some people may think men have a sort of superiority because the way we were brought up, especially when it comes to the technical side of the business. Has this attitude changed significantly in your opinion?

Yes, I think that the perception has been changing because there are incredible women doing incredible things, but is it happening fast enough and wide enough? I think there is still some room for improvement.

6: What needs to be done by whom to get more women into the motor retail side of the industry?

The biggest challenge other than addressing the stereotypes previously mentioned is to ensure that there is a better understanding of the vast career opportunities within the industry. There is so much more to it than selling and fixing cars – marketing, finance, logistics, manufacturing to name a few.

7: What is your advice to women even at school level, to consider the car business as a career path?

It can be a tough industry to be involved in, but it can also be very rewarding for those who are willing to put in the time and effort. On a professional level, the experience gained will be invaluable throughout your working career regardless of where your path may take you.

On a personal level, the industry will teach you a lot about yourself, what you are capable of, and it will ultimately bring out the best in you.

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