FROM THE ASSOCIATION
A New Plan to Invest in the Future
By Nicole Bradle
It’s been 10 years since the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) hosted the “SEMA Mustang Build Powered by Women.” That project was a conspicuously successful all-female build that captured the attention of the industry and provided a spotlight for a great number of women working in the aftermarket. Now the current SBN team has conceived of another signature all-female build—this time one that has the potential to engage on an even wider basis and serve as a catalyst on a number of strategic fronts.
As the project comes together over a two-year period, it will highlight the many different professional roles our industry offers to young women, including engineering, industrial design, marketing, media, and a multitude of mechanical and trade specialties. The build will not only tickle the imagination of students considering future career paths but will also serve to put them in touch with builders and get guidance they might not otherwise receive.
The project will also help to create a focal point for participation for successful women already in the industry who can use the build as an opportunity to acquire new professional relationships and guide or mentor younger individuals. Over time, these experiences will build a stronger community and, ultimately, a more diverse, broad-based source of talent.
Significantly, this project will also provide a means to take on the challenges posed by fast-moving and complex vehicle technology. Helping the industry acquire more knowhow when it comes to customizing the newest vehicles without compromising safety features or emissions regulations is an important priority, one that will only become more relevant in the coming years.
The plan is to take full advantage of facilities at the SEMA Garages, where the association has teams working daily behind the scenes. By coordinating with the Garages, builders can explore new possibilities and discover best practices. Sharing that information will come about through videos disseminated via SEMA channels and robust social-media outreach.
The SBN project will also create opportunities for member companies to participate in a variety of ways. For starters, companies can provide a crucial boost just by encouraging their female employees to volunteer and participate. Companies can benefit from including their employees in the program because they will learn new skills, enhance current skills, and bring back a network of contacts to draw upon for years to come. That will tend to increase their ability to contribute and help qualify them for leadership
Another opportunity for member companies will be to donate products or services. The plan for this project assumes that the bulk of the products and services will come from the industry—companies that will benefit from exposure at the SEMA Show, lifestyle events around the country, plus blogs, articles, podcasts and social media posts. Still to come is the final decision as to which vehicle will be most appropriate for the purpose, but the possibilities are many and varied.
Looking back, we can see that the original 2012 SBN Mustang build created an opportunity for many women in the industry, establishing new networks and boosting opportunities for female participation within the automotive aftermarket. Many of the alumnae of that effort have since earned visible leadership roles, a development sparked—at least in part—by the simple opportunity to contribute. The current SBN project is likely to do the same and pay off for years to come, and not just for women in our industry. As a long-term investment, we can expect that it will work to broadly promote the automotive enthusiast lifestyle and help expand the overall talent pool in our industry.
Nicole Bradle is SEMA council director and the council liaison for SBN. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.