The sixth annual Women’s Industry Network Conference kicked off Monday morning in Atlanta with over 200 women from all segments of the collision repair industry. The first day included a keynote address on “Extreme Change: Adapt, Overcome & WIN as One” by Robyn Benincasa, World Champion Adventure Racer, San Diego City Firefighter and Founder of World Class Teams and Project Athena Foundation. Dr. Linda Gravett of Gravett and Associates inspired conference attendees with her strategies for managing stress and maintaining inner peace utilizing exercises borrowed from Tai Chi, Yoga and Tae Kwon Do. The afternoon session included an update on vehicle design and collision avoidance technology and its impact on the industry presented by Kim Hazelbaker, Senior Vice President, Highway Loss Data Institute.
Included in the day was recognition of the nine conference scholarship winners including six students: Nicolette Cole, Le'Trina Ervin, Tiffany Owen, Leslie Mendoza, Jennifer Watkins, Kinsey Simmons; one instructor: Greg Brink; and two collision repair facility employees: Deborah O'Kean and Jessica Gauthier.
Margaret Knell was awarded this year’s Cornerstone Award, given each year to a board member that exemplifies the values and ideals of WIN. Also recognized were WIN’s 2012 Corporate Sponsors: AkzoNobel; DuPont; Allstate; ASE; BASF; Enterprise Rent-a-Car; State Farm Insurance; Hertz; 3M; LKQ; Sterling Autobody Centers; Geico; Fix Auto; Carstar; PPG; ABRA Auto Body & Glass; CAPA; Finishmaster; Symphony Advisors; Sherwin Williams; Mitchell; CCC Information Services; Insurance Auto Auctions; Audatex and Car-Part.com. “We want to thank every one of our sponsors for their support of WIN. Their commitments are essential to achieving our mission of engaging women in the collision repair industry,” said Victoria Jankowski, WIN’s chair.
Day two at the WIN conference started off with the Annual Scholarship Walk Presented by Fix Auto where more than 100 women laced up their sneakers and trekked through Atlanta’s Buckhead district. Over $1700 was raised through individual donations. The funds will be directed toward WIN’s various scholarship programs.
Following the walk, WIN’s second keynote speaker, Cathy Bonner, CEO, Service King Collision Repair Centers, shared the top performing skills that she has learned through forty years of professional and personal success. Cathy had a unique message that has been built on years of teaching leadership through the programs she developed called Leadership America and Power Pipeline and her own management experiences in both the public and the private sectors of America.
Susanna Gotsch, Director Industry Analyst, CCC Information Services, gave an industry update titled “The Latest Trends, Market Dynamics & Business Drivers Impacting Our Industry.” Ms. Gotsch explored the ways economic and demographic changes have impacted the automotive claims and repair industries.
The afternoon continued with three breakout sessions:
“Why Women Should Do Business with You” presented by Lori Johnson, Owner of Ladies, Start Your Engines!
“Quality Control: Are you Looking Closely Enough and at the Right Time” presented by Shawn Collins a Senior Technical Service Engineer at 3M
“Customer Service…Back to Basics” presented by Dianne Young, Founder and Master Instructor for Propel Training and Development
After two, exciting, fast-paced days spent networking with old and new colleagues and learning from dynamic speakers, the conference wrapped up with the closing session titled “Take Control…Be the Change.” Michelle DeMaris, WIN member and conference attendee, explained a key change she wants to actively pursue, “I've learned we have to take charge of changing the perception of females in the industry and own that concept.” Linda Sommerhauser, a long time WIN member, added her thoughts, “I feel energized and invigorated to go back and work more with our schools and advisory boards and to advocate for shops to sponsor internships within their facilities.”