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R. L. Polk & Co.’s Ask the Industry Looks at the Value of Networking

This year, the Car Care Council Women’s Board celebrates ten years of bringing together aftermarket professionals to encourage more women to join the aftermarket and help women become better vehicle maintainers. At the recent Women’s Board summer meeting held last month in Atlanta, aftermarketNews Editor Amy Antenora asked a few longtime aftermarket executives what they get out of networking events and associations such as this. Here’s what they had to say.

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AKRON, OHIO — This year, the Car Care Council Women’s Board celebrates ten years of bringing together aftermarket professionals to encourage more women to join the aftermarket and help women become better vehicle maintainers. At the recent Women’s Board summer meeting held last month in Atlanta, aftermarketNews Editor Amy Antenora asked a few longtime aftermarket executives what they get out of networking events and associations such as this. Here’s what they had to say.

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What do you get personally out of industry networking and association involvement (such as the Women’s Board), and what benefit does it provide your company?

Barbara Bender, Wix Filtration Corp, Gastonia, NC:

“Personally, the most benefit I get out of it is being able to interact with other women in similar positions and get an understanding that we’re all in this together. We all go through the same things and we’re doing a good job. As far as the company goes, I think it’s a show of support that they are interested in diversity and interested in developing the careers of people of all backgrounds. They understand that this is what it is going to take to get our organization to the highest level.”

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Rose Dygard, Cooper-Bussman Industries, St. Louis, MO:

“For me personally, it’s about keeping up with what’s going on from somebody else’s professional perspective. Retail, meaning the automotive aftermarket, is a very small segment of what I do. I don’t know anybody at my own company who is in the automotive aftermarket. Most of my co-workers are in electrical distribution, but when I worked at Federal-Mogul, everyone was either on the OE or aftermarket side. So, [coming to events like this] is a way for me to spend time with people I can relate to. I think it benefits my company as well when I come here and learn about benchmarks throughout the industry and see where everyone else is at. Plus, I get the opportunity to assist on a committee and do things that actually make a difference. That’s important to me.”

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Chuck Udell, MAAP, Essential Action Design Group, Leawood, KS:

“I second a lot of the other comments, but the other thing I think is important, since I am doing something different than I was two years ago, is to meet people and to learn. I can learn something from everybody, and meeting different people from different segments of the industry makes it a richer experience. I think the important thing is the interaction – that’s key.”

Summary by Amy Antenora, Editor, aftermarketNews:

For many longtime aftermarket executives, the numerous industry councils, committees and volunteer groups allow old friends and colleagues to reconnect and exchange ideas. For those new to the industry, involvement in industry groups is an excellent way to make important contacts and receive a crash course on industry lingo and trends. However, councils like the Women’s Board play an even more important role.

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While the majority of us spend our workdays focused on a very specific set of tasks meant to reach a very specific targeted audience, the Women’s Board taps into the creativity and skills of a wide range of aftermarket professionals to reach a much broader group. Thanks to well organized meetings held every six months, a number of outstanding projects have been accomplished by this group.

At each meeting, members are charged with a new set of tasks to be accomplished over the coming six months. This volunteer workforce has much to be proud of, including providing annual scholarships to female students who are pursuing careers in the automotive aftermarket; recognition of superlative automotive communications efforts via the Automotive Communications Awards; as well as establishing new and innovative methods to teach consumers to take better care of their cars.

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Networking has never felt so good!

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