Brittani McClain - aftermarketNews

2022 Honoree

Brittani McClain

Director of Customer Service
Auto-Wares Group of Companies

What is the proudest accomplishment of your career, thus far?

A couple weeks before the pandemic began in 2020, I received a promotion from Marketing to my current role (Director of Customer Service). I had just wrapped up planning our annual Tech Expo trade show and training event, with recording-breaking attendance, started a new chapter with customer service, and I was six months pregnant. As everyone’s world’s shifted due to the pandemic, I became one of the key communicators for employees surrounding our COVID response. I took the responsibility of communicating with our customers and employees very seriously during this critical time. The pandemic presented challenges that caused many women to leave the workplace, and I’m fortunate for wading through those challenges, coming out stronger in my career, and being a positive role model for my daughters. I will never take that granted, and it [was] a pivotal time in my life and career.

What is your best advice to other women who want to excel in the automotive aftermarket? What is one thing the industry could do better or do differently to support women in the aftermarket?

The best advice I have for women in our industry is to not talk yourself out of reaching for new opportunities or speaking up when you have something to contribute. Too often I see women downplay their strengths or reserve their comments when they have something valuable to add. We tend to get inside our own heads. If you can find a way to silence that apprehension, and stand strong in your contribution, it will go a long way.

To support women in the aftermarket, it’s important we continue to elevate and create space for women in our industry. Organizations like Women in Auto Care are making incredible strides to recognize women and empowering others to thrive. If companies and organizations can find a way to create a similar culture where women’s success is not intimidating or threatening, it will create an inclusive space for women in the industry.

How do you build up your confidence to prepare for challenging professional situations?

Knowledge is power. I put a lot of focus into growing and learning within the aftermarket, but also general leadership skills. Within the leadership skill development, a topic of conversation is often how to work with others or find what motivates them. Between knowledge and understanding of those around me, I find confidence in bridging those together. When you know what motivates those around you, or what viewpoint they are approaching situations with, the conversation becomes less challenging and more productive.

What do you believe are some of the most important skillsets to excel in a career in the aftermarket today?

Our industry is one built on relationships; empathy is the key to building a strong relationship. It’s a skill that is not learned through a textbook, but rather absorbed over time by reflecting on situations and interpersonal dynamics. Being able to listen to those around you and put yourself in their shoes helps build stronger teams, better relationship with customers, and helps us grow as leaders.

Are there any ways that you have personally mentored women to further their careers in the automotive aftermarket?

A way that I’ve personally mentored women to further their careers in the automotive aftermarket is through training. I make a conscious effort to bring others along with me in learning and teaching new skills and resources. I’ve encouraged those around me to attend industry training events and become a cheerleader for their growth. The power behind mentoring makes space for more women at the table. Mentoring allows us to keep the future of the aftermarket bright, with women involved in the goal setting. I wouldn’t be where I am today without impactful women in the industry taking time to reflect and share their perspective, and I feel a strong responsibility to keep that going.