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Jennifer Chapman, Foss National Leasing: Taking The Words Of Her “Sensei” To Heart

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Jennifer Chapman, Regional Director of Sales and Client Services, Foss National Leasing. Photo Foss National Leasing

Jennifer Chapman’s first car was a chocolate brown 1977 Chevrolet Caprice Classic that she bought for $500. 

And although she initially had more of an interest in the computer equipment field, Chapman wound up in the automotive industry. She’s now the Regional Director of Sales and Client Services at Foss National Leasing. “Once I was in the industry, I fell in love with it,” Chapman attests.

She’s been at Foss now for eight years and likes the fast-paced variety of work. From operations to front lines sales and service, every day brings something new. At Foss, Chapman has found a company that understands business in Canada and is focused on the Canadian market.

“Grasshopper”

Along the way, Chapman has seen many changes in fleet, like an increased number of women in senior roles. She recalls a mentor from her early days in fleet, who told Chapman not to limit herself and encouraged her to find better ways of doing things. “She called herself my ‘Sensei, and I was her ‘Grasshopper,'” chuckles Chapman. To this day, Chapman still has a grasshopper on her desk as a reminder.

Chapman has her Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM) designation with NAFA and is an active member of AFLA as part of their Women in Fleet program and their Canadian Summit committee. One of her proudest moments was winning “Account Manager of the Year” for the first time. She’d only been an Account Manager for less than two years and had been managing teams—not managing a client and their fleet portfolio. But she took the words of her ‘Sensei’ to heart. “I challenged myself to try something different, something I never thought I had the skill set for, and I not only knocked it out of the park, but I also loved it,” she recalls.

Her proudest moments as a leader are when she can help her team realize new solutions to improve processes and improve metrics while bringing them pride in their own accomplishments.

Has she mentored other women? Chapman says some women in the industry have referred to her as a mentor, but she hasn’t seen herself in this capacity. Rather, she strongly believes in supporting others when she can and making sure she’s there to listen to others. 

Many opportunities

“It’s such a large industry, and there are so many opportunities in it,” Chapman stresses. Especially with automotive fleet, there are roles with fleet management companies, companies that are operating vehicles for their business, dealer opportunities, telematics, safety providers, and remarketing opportunities with auctions and with OEMs and their fleet teams. She advises anyone new to the industry to keep trying if they don’t find a good fit right away. “Once you’re in fleet, the business card may change over the years, but you never leave.”

Chapman also enjoys being able to drive some cool cars. She finds it humorous when she goes into a shop to get service done on a personal vehicle, and an advisor may try to upsell her on something she doesn’t need. “I love to challenge them and bring up a tread depth specification or discussion on brake pad thickness requirements. How many female ASE-Certified Service Advisors do they come across? They learn pretty fast!”

 

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