Shannon Spano, 2018 AIA Young Leader of the Year Award recipient, has a refreshing perspective regarding the automotive aftermarket and the best way to develop it.
Recently named as Vice President, Consumer Sales at Wakefield Canada, Spano shared her views of the industry during an exclusive meeting with CarCare Business at AAPEX 2018.
The young professional has methodically worked her way up in the company, gaining more insight and experience. “I love working with the team at Wakefield. It is both a solid yet flexible organization. From day one, I felt supported and valued, which helped me gain confidence, as I had no prior automotive industry experience.“
Level of trust
Spano demonstrates this same level of trust with her team. “We need to empower our sales force,” she explains. “As team leaders, our role is to establish a clear plan and eliminate obstacles in order to provide quality support for our customers.”
When it comes to the lubricant marketplace, Spano says she’s seeing particular growth in demand for synthetic oils, driven by advances in engine technology in order to meet tighter fuel economy requirements without compromising performance.
Not only does this apply to premium European vehicles (traditionally requiring higher spec, often synthetic oils) but increasingly mass-market import and domestic vehicles too— an important consideration for the aftermarket, particularly as these vehicles start to age.
Although well-established in the Canadian marketplace, Spano still sees changes ahead for Wakefield and the brands it represents.
“The entire industry is facing several major challenges, including current trends towards greater vehicle electrification,” she says.
“The lubricant market is currently fragmented and complex, which is why we need to significantly focus our efforts on market-leading products, training and innovative lubricant solutions for our customers. These challenges are faced not just by the lubricant sector but the entire automotive aftermarket.”
While it’s true that the Wakefield Vice President of Consumer Sales has managed national accounts, she actively promotes a local customer approach. Spano strongly believes that a vendor partner needs to be attentive to customer needs to the point of offering solutions before the customer asks for help.
“A partnership isn’t just a buzzword or the flavour of the month, it’s a business philosophy that paves the way towards long-term development for our customers.”
The labour shortage is another important challenge faced by all automotive-industry stakeholders, on both the technical and managerial front. “I am convinced that we can attract young talent to our industry by showing them that we have a solid development plan in place and that we will support them. I strongly believe—and my own career is a good example—that it is possible to recruit employees with enormous potential from sources outside of the automotive sector. I am a big proponent of diversity, in both management teams and field staff, as diversity promotes creative and innovative thinking.”
Engaging, enthusiastic and expressing herself in a clear, concise manner, Shannon Spano has an extremely positive outlook as to the future of the company and the industry. It comes as no surprise that AIA Canada has recognized her as a remarkable young leader.