As originally appeared in the January-February 2018 issue of Auto Remarketing Canada
Auto Remarketing Canada: How did you begin your career in the automotive industry, and what circumstances, interests and mentors helped lead you in that direction?
Eddie McWhirter: Getting into the automotive industry was by chance. My educational background and experience is in accounting and finance. When I first entered into the automotive industry I knew very little about the business, and my experience was limited to a few vehicle purchases. I was approached with the opportunity to lead the finance department of a growing company and was intrigued by what the organization offered to the automotive industry. The CEO’s core values truly aligned with mine, so I accepted the challenge of venturing into a new industry. It has been 10 years, and I continue to enjoy what I do at the same company that introduced me to the industry!
ARC: What is the one thing you would make sure to tell anyone first starting their career in the automotive industry?
EM: Regardless of where one first starts their career, I say stay true to your core values. I’m a firm believer of respect and integrity in the workplace with a focus of candor and authenticity in each conversation. The automotive industry is dynamic, and technology is revolutionizing the industry and customer experience. Those starting in the industry won’t have all the answers, but through honest and respectful communication with peers and leaders along with ambition and focus, one will get the support required to learn the business and stand out in their organization. I also suggest having a mentor to assist with career growth. Mentors help grow confidence and the strength required to succeed both in professional and personal life. In my opinion, if one is hungry for knowledge and growth, a mentor will respect the drive and support their mentee through that journey.
ARC: What do you see as the biggest obstacle to women advancing in the automotive business, and what does the industry need to do to address this challenge?
EM: Years ago you wouldn’t see many women in leadership positions within the automotive industry. It’s a known fact that the industry is dominated by males. However, women are making strides in the industry and raising the glass ceiling. Women tend to be less inclined than their counterparts to pursue what they want. It’s important for female leaders to set the tone for other women to pursue personal goals and not allow gender to have an influence. I want women to be inspired to be the best version of themselves and for that, I feel a significant amount of responsibility to be the best role model I can be. Companies need to continue to empower their female leaders to be courageous and trust them to lead in their authentic way.
ARC: What do you think makes a great leader in the automotive industry?
EM: In any industry (not just automotive) a great leader possesses drive, passion, empathy and inspires others through honest and respectful communications. Every great leader I’ve had the pleasure of knowing has a strong sense of right and wrong with a vision for what the industry could be rather than what it currently is. Leaders take risk and confront fear regardless of their role.