An Obligation To Be Visible

March 8, 2023
In the News

As originally appeared in Autosphere on March 8, 2023.

Author: Krystyna Lagowski

As a woman leader in automotive, Jake Stacey says she has an obligation to be visible in the industry to other women and to let them know she’s happy to help them achieve their goals.

Right now, Stacey, the Executive Vice President of Sales and Training at LGM Financial Services, believes Canada’s automotive industry needs more women in senior positions and she’s working hard to change that. “We’ve had some great women do some pretty big jobs in the automotive sector, with GM, Cox Automotive, and in the big auto groups in Canada.” However, she has seen women struggle to stay in big roles. “Women lead differently and women in senior leadership roles is still a new thing in the male-dominated automotive industry. This means due to the sheer lack of women, male decision makers often struggle to see the value in the unique qualities women bring to the table, particularly when stacked up against a traditional male leader who looks and sounds like them.”

That’s why Stacey feels women like herself need to be clear and visible to other women. For International Women’s Day last year, LGM held a panel led by CEO Drew Collier interviewing other senior women at the company and asking them questions from his perspective as a male in the industry. The panel was a big hit and created the opportunity to continue the discussion. This year, the panel is aimed at women in middle management and hosted by one of her male colleagues. “We’re looking at safe spaces for women in middle management and individual contributor roles to be able to ask questions of senior women leaders about their stories,” describes Stacey. “The story is what matters, inspires, and lights that spark.”

Subject Matter Expert

Stacey not only walks the walk but talks the talk – literally. “I do a lot of interviews,” she says. Often, Stacey is asked to be a subject matter expert on topics related to dealers, today’s market, and what dealers can do to be more successful. It’s where she believes she does well because she enjoys the technical aspects of her role. “I am an analytical leader. I love the numbers, the mess involved in solving the big process problems, and having the technical skills required to solve them.”

She encourages women to talk about their technical talent. “I enjoy talking about competency and skills because I don’t think women do that enough,” Stacey emphasizes. “Young women want to talk to a woman who knows how to do it, who understands the technical aspects of a role and can use that to win hearts and minds.”

Since the beginning of her career, Stacey has sought out mentors and sponsors and is careful to explain the difference. “A sponsor is someone who identifies your talent and opens doors to make opportunities available. She will drop your name at a table of decision-makers. However, when a woman recommends another woman in a male-dominated industry, that woman must be prepared to be questioned and explain that the recommendation is coming from a competency perspective, not from the gender perspective.”

Take your spot

“You’ve got to take your spot,” stresses Stacey. “Nobody’s going to give it to you.” This is why she thinks women need to put their hands up for even the oddest assignments. “Mix it up and build it,” she chuckles. When working for one of the Credit Unions, Stacey had a hand in the design of a Visa card and remembers it as one of the most exciting projects of her career. “I was influencing something that was going to be in every member’s wallet, and I had never done anything like that before.”

“Those are the sorts of opportunities that happen for women when they put their hand up, take risks and step out of their comfort zone.”

“Both the men and women in the automotive industry must work together to build an industry free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. I truly believe we can reach a place that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. My part in it is to be comfortable with asking tough questions and being there to help my male colleagues see the value in our differences and celebrate them not be uncomfortable with them.”