By Ashley Reyes
The SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) named Rebeca Olavarrieta, president of Roco 4x4, as the newest #SheIsSEMA spotlight member.
Olavarrieta started her career in the automotive aftermarket 16 years ago as a bookkeeper for a shop and has been with her current company for 15 years. Learn about her career in her interview with SEMA below.
SEMA: Being a woman in the industry, what have been your biggest challenges and accomplishments?
RO: I think the challenges for women in the automotive industry are similar to challenges that women in other fields face. Sexism, access to equal opportunities and compensation deter women from approaching a career in the automotive industry. During my career I’ve learned to approach these challenges as opportunities to demonstrate gender is not a limitation.
SEMA: What are three qualities that got you to where you are today?
RO: Resilience, enthusiasm and patience.
SEMA: Who are your role models or mentors in the industry? How have they helped you along the way?
RO: All of the women of SBN. I’ve been fortunate to meet my share of what I like to call the Wonder Women of the automotive industry—women with whom I’ve had opportunities to tackle projects like the SBN Mustang build, to having difficult conversations like how to help women find a life-work balance.
SEMA: What is the best career advice you have received?
RO: You can’t please everybody, period. This is a very powerful reminder that in almost every scenario you will encounter someone who will have something negative to say. If you allow this to get under your skin, it can deter you from trying new things. Focusing on the fact that you can’t please everyone helps you to not take derogatory comments personally.
SEMA: Have you always wanted to work in the automotive industry? What keeps you here?
RO: The automotive industry intrigued me since my teens. I’ve had opportunities to change industries, but there is a gravitational pull that I really can’t explain that keeps me in the automotive industry.
SEMA: Who was the most influential person on your career/goals?
RO: I can’t name one person, but I can name one event. The SEMA Show has been the most influential event in my career in the automotive industry. Every year I get to see the vehicles and meet new people and it is definitely the reason why I volunteer with SEMA. Without the SEMA Show, this industry would not be the same.
Do you know, or are you, a woman with a career in the automotive industry? Fill out a #SheIsSEMA spotlight form to submit a self-nomination or nominate a colleague and highlight how you or she is contributing to the specialty-equipment industry. Selected candidates are automatically eligible to be considered for SBN’s #SheIsSEMA Woman of the Year award, featured on SBN’s social media, SEMA eNews and recognized on the www.sema.org/she-is-sema website.