Kerri Wise, CMO, AutoFi, Lerea Graham, GM, Hello Mazda of Valencia, Sandy Zannino, Automotive HR Expert

February 28, 2023
ASOTU was on the ground during the 2023 NADA Show and caught up with Kerri Wise, Lerea Graham and Sandy Zannino.
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Kerri Wise is the Chief Marketing Officer at AutoFi.

Lerea Graham is the General Manager at Hello Mazda of Valencia

Sandy Zannino is an automotive HR expert.

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Kyle Mountsier: 0:00This is In the Dirt with ASOTU. All right, we are here at the JD Power Auto Summit and Suto News Retail Forum. I'm hanging out with two of my good friends and one new friend. I've got Kerri, Lerea, like Maria. But with an L, she just told me that. And Sandy. And you guys have been at the show already. I'm guessing. Did you guys go to the women? Retail women driving retail? Okay, so each I need one takeaway from that, from that early morning event and what happened over there.

Kerri Wise: 0:35

I was really inspired by an aviation executive, outside of automotive, but some parallels in terms of being one of the only women in her industry. And she just talked about owning your power, right? And realizing that who you are today, you don't need to change. You just need to be your authentic self and lean in on your differences.

Kyle Mountsier: 0:52

That's awesome. That's awesome. All right, next,

Lerea Graham: 0:57

I'm gonna second that was Stephanie Chang. My biggest takeaway, don't try to blend in be your unique self. That was her quote, exactly. It's

Kyle Mountsier: 1:06

alright. Sandy, give us one. You can't say Oh, I third that. That is not a bit. This is not a business meeting. Okay.

Sandy Zannino: 1:13

The wheels are turning, the wheels are turning right. Because that was Stephanie was amazingly impactful. And she also had her family there with her. Right. Well, you

Kyle Mountsier: 1:23

You know how I feel about that? Right? I

Sandy Zannino: 1:24

I see you all doing it. Right. And it that was really amazing to I got to meet her husband. And I don't know how many kids yet but one of them was there with her one of her daughter beautiful. Yeah, it was pretty amazing. And she she really did. I don't know if she brought anybody else to tears,

Lerea Graham: 1:41

She brought tears to everyone in the room. Right?

Sandy Zannino: 1:45

About it's not giving away your power. But keep in what you already have.

Kyle Mountsier: 1:51

Yeah, right. You know, I saw a post of another couple of ladies that were there. And I wanted to kind of get your feedback on this. And I loved the way that this was said and I don't know if this was because it was a kind of mantra through the the event, but it was essentially that that some of the some people talk about automotive being a male dominated industry. And, and really, that the truth of the matter is it is a predominantly male industry, which is a fact and that is truth. But I think like I look at especially I don't know you as well. But I look at just the power that you

Lerea Graham: 2:27

Well, it's been amazing so far, a lot of work. all bring to the industry and what you give to everyone in the industry. It's like that's a power right. And that's, that's a superpower of, of people that can that can lean in, you know, Lerea, you are a General Manager at Hello Auto Group. And I know Carl, who is the owner there. Talk to me a little bit about what the experience has been being a GM and being in a predominantly male industry and leading from the front and the way that you have So this is not for, you know, the thin blood, the you know, the people that can handle it, you have to be ambitious. The great part of being at Hello is that they don't look at you as a woman and put you on the spot. They look at the best person for the job. And they're always hiring from within you know, we have six dealerships 50% of the GMs right now are women, and we're kicking butt. And we love what we do. And we love our teams. We love the leadership there. But Automotive is so awesome. I just I really wish we could put a lens and in the dealership and have women see that you can kick some butt in this automotive industry, we just don't have enough women that I think know about it. Well,

Kyle Mountsier: 3:47

I think the lens has to be shown on the entire industry. So showing that like no matter where you come from, what your background is, what your socio economic status, who your daddy was anything like that, that this is an industry that is a viable place for many people to be a part of that can be successful. And I think all of you all are proof of that you got

Kerri Wise: 4:06

something to say because it's about the people in you, you all talk about it all the time, right? The reason why women aren't drawn to our industry is because they think we're selling cars. If they knew that it was so much more about the people, this would be one of the number one industries that women would be flocking to. So I think we have to reframe what this industry is about.

Kyle Mountsier: 4:27

Kerri, I used to say when I first started selling cars, because that's where I started in the business. I said I was terrible at selling cars. I was the worst. I was really really great at making friends. Yeah. And I think if we can convince more people that that is this industry that that's the best part of this industry. I think people will be banging down the doors to get in. So thanks for sharing with us. Thanks for hanging out enjoy the rest of the show you guys. Thank you for listening to in the dirt with ASOTU. We love the automotive industry and the people who make it run Day in and day out. We would love to connect with you more through our daily dose of fun, a free email that you can sign up for at That's a s o t We put our heart and soul into it every day. Thanks again for listening. Join us next time for more Conversations in the dirt with ASOTU.

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