To continue the momentum started by our Women in Remarketing and Women in Auto Finance franchises, AuSM has launched Women in Retail, an awards program that specifically recognizes leaders on the retail side of the auto industry.
This inaugural class of honorees is spotlighted in the July 1 issue of AuSM, which includes Q&As with each recipient of the award.
Next up is Vanisha Palanivel, who is internet sales director at AutoNation Volkswagen Mall Of Georgia
AuSM: What was your career path to the retail auto industry? Did you always see yourself in this line of work?
Vanisha Palanivel: I started in the auto business as a business development center representative at a local Toyota dealership in Jacksonville, Fla. Fast forward four years later, I am a 22-year-old Internet sales manager for AutoNation in Atlanta! When I look back, I can’t believe the things I have been able to achieve. I have always had a love for cars; I am a pure JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) girl. Never did I imagine I would have a career in this industry, especially not one I couldn’t see myself leaving. I am a political science major and an avid debater. My path did not show any signs of being where I am today, but I’m in love. Don’t people do crazy things when they are?
AR: What’s a typical day like in your job? (if there is such a thing as “typical!”)
VP: You are right! Not a typical day. I am currently the internet sales manager at AutoNation Volkswagen Mall of Georgia. My team consists of five internet sales associates and three BDC representatives to help with the volume of opportunities we receive. My day begins and ends with doing everything in my power to help every one of them succeed.
Beyond simple traffic management I have a knack for getting subprime deals approved. I love the brand, and I truly love working for AutoNation; the pride for my job goes beyond my position. I truly love to see our store exceed every goal set.
AR: What accomplishment or moment in your career are you most proud of?
VP: My proudest moment was being promoted to a BDC manager merely at the age of 19. I could not believe it. I was well over my head, but had a person — my mentor, rather — who believed in me. I will never forget him. He gave me every tool I needed to succeed today, but beyond just being my boss, he helped me mature as an individual. The things he taught me will carry me through every position I take and every meeting I hold. He gave me a chance when most would have turned.
AR: What do you enjoy most about working in the auto industry?
VP: Personally, I enjoy the pace of the business. There is nothing more exciting than literally never being on top of anything. It seems crazy, truthfully — you must be a special kind of crazy to work here! Yet, it is refreshing to know that you will always have something to look forward to, a new change, a new program or even just a simple update. I am constantly on my toes. Four years in and I still have about maybe 10% of what I do down. There is never a monotonous day; never a down moment.
AR: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in retail automotive?
VP: Have fun, and never stop learning! It seems like a rather simple concept. However, starting out as young as I did, that was my mantra. This business, as any, has its ups and downs, but for the most part, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have encountered, thus far.
The ability to constantly learn an ever-shifting business, to understand the economics, the culture, as well as the people within it, has been a delight. Don’t forget what drew you in, what kept you going and what has you working those long hours. It is not for all, but it has an everlasting impression on the few that stay.