Women in the Aftermarket Leadership Forum

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The Leadership Forum for women in the Aftermarket. PHOTO Huw Evans

At the recent AIA Annual AGM and Conference, at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Toronto Airport & Conference Centre (Toronto, Ontario) on May 11, 20, one of the main events was the ‘Women in the Aftermarket Leadership Forum’.  

AIA President, JF Champagne made the introductions, stating, “A couple of years ago, we developed the AWAKE (Advancing Women Automotive Knowledge Exchange) mentorship program which allowed us to discover that we need to make efforts and take more proactive steps to diversify the aftermarket.”

Minister Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, started off the event by virtually discussing her support for building programs addressing labour shortages and developing skills in youth and women’s groups.

Huge advocates of women in the industry, Fix Network sponsored this event and is there to support women and to help them grow in the industry. 

Workshop leader

Leading a workshop was Sharon Ramalho, an advisor who helps support business owners and leaders to achieve their goals through business plan exercises during which they always talk about people first. 

The workshop tackled various topics during which all attendees were asked to be open and honest so this information could be passed on as the collective voice of companies regarding what they can do to support women in the workplace.

Attendees discussed topics at a table and shared experiences and best practices. 

  1. What are the best practices and strategies to help you move your career forward and achieve your goals?
    Key Takeaways: Set goals for yourself to learn, grow, and contribute; Communicate to your leaders, your team, and your family; Take smart risks; Life/Work management.
  2. The role of leaders in advancing your career and achieving your goals.
  3. What can be done to recognize, retainand build a pipeline for talent and potential women leaders within your company? 

Then came a chat between Katie Gibson, Mevotech CHRL and Sharon Ramalho, discussing the two main reasons why equity, diversity and inclusion are so important. 


Vivian Kaye, TV Personality and CEO of KinkyCurlyYaki was up next: 

Get your mindset right, so when you see an opportunity, you’ll seize it.”

She went on to speak about audacity with these tips for attendees.

How to show up authentically: 

  • Know your vision;
  • Be clear on your strategy;
  • Identify your strengths;
  • Have a strong mindset;
  • Be more affirming;
  • Diverse thought brings more money, and
  • Marrying your expertise and confidence and putting these two things together to make things happen for you. 

Talking with Diane Freeman, President of the Automotive Retailers of Ontario (AARO) about the event, she had this to say: “Sharon Ramalho did a workshop exercise with the audience. Most of the women in the room were not in Executive Level positions. They all had male bosses and made the same old comments about how male bosses don’t communicate and understand, and they are uncomfortable around women.  

“There were a lot of discussions around addressing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

“The second guest presenter, Vivian Kaye was very entertaining. She got the audience laughing and engaging with her. Her style and live life attitude positivity shine when she is in the room. I thoroughly enjoyed her presentation and how being grateful is her success in life.”

All in all, an uplifting event for the women in attendance.


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