SBN Gear Up Girl Event a Standing-Room-Only Success!

SEMA Member News—March/April 2015 

SBN Gear Up Girl Event a Standing-Room-Only Success!

By Karen Salvaggio

Gear Up Girl allows student participants to connect with seasoned female professionals.
Gear Up Girl allows student participants to connect with seasoned female professionals.

The SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) hosted the Gear Up Girl networking event for the fourth time at the 2014 SEMA Show. The gathering provides a unique opportunity created for the benefit of female students pursuing careers in the automotive industry.

Event goals included:

  • Connecting female students with female leaders in the industry
  • Helping female students gain a broad understanding of opportunities in the industry
  • Assisting female students in identifying their interests and how they might connect with specific niche market segments and/or companies in the industry

Over the years, the event has grown from a small reception with a cozy group of students and women professionals interacting with one another to this year’s gathering, where more than 100 students or women attended. The room was abuzz with lively yet focused conversations, all directed at answering questions from women aspiring to careers in the industry. An impressive group of female industry professionals representing virtually every facet of the industry provided detailed insights and advice to attendees.

The 2014 Gear Up Girl reception was the first one attended by SBN select committee member Jacqueline Parral of Family Events, and it definitely left an impression.

“I loved it,” she said. “It was great to see so many wonderful young ladies interested in our industry. They were all so focused, had excellent questions and really listened to what our experts had to say. Personally, it was also a chance for me to get to know the ladies of the SBN in more relaxed scenario. We have some very talented, confident, career-minded ladies in the SBN! It was a great way to network for me.”

More than 100 women and students attended the 2014 Gear Up Girl event.
More than 100 women and students attended the 2014 Gear Up Girl event.

Event organizers such as SBN select committee member Julia Johnson, an automotive technology professor at Skyline College, were thrilled to have so many women industry leaders attend the Monday afternoon networking activity.

“Gear Up Girl is an amazing networking event for women in the automotive industry,” Johnson said. “The SBN puts on a great event where female leaders in the industry can meet and share their experiences with the female students participating in the SEMA Show Student Program.

“This event gets better every year, with more students and more ‘veterans,’ and everyone has something to learn and something to share. I loved feeling the excitement in the room when the event started, but more than that, I loved that everyone left with such a positive feeling, both about the event and themselves. It’s not an event just for students anymore. It’s grown into an amazing networking opportunity for any woman in the auto industry at any stage of her career.”

While the organizers were pleased with the event’s overall success, its true value was perhaps best reflected in attendee and aspiring race car driver Shea Holbrook’s comments.

“The Gear Up Girl event was, by far, the most productive and successful networking event I attended during the SEMA Show,” she said. “It generated real contacts, and these women are industry leaders with expertise who make the time to connect with other women, establishing outstanding, long relationships. I look forward to attending again in 2015, to seeing familiar faces and to meeting new businesswomen.”

The SBN is grateful for the support from women professionals in the industry, and members are already “gearing up” for an expanded event in 2015!