Lerea Graham is a role model for the hard work and passion that create a successful career in automotive retail. Now general manager at Hello Mazda of Valencia in Valencia, Calif., Graham started her auto journey from scratch eight years ago in her home state of Minnesota.
After an impressive stint in sales at Morrie's Brooklyn Park Subaru, she moved to finance at another Morrie’s dealership, then a corporate training program. In 2021, Graham was recruited to join the Hello Auto Group as general manager of the group’s Mazda store.
“I had no experience in automotive when I started,” Graham said. “If you come in with a positive attitude, you want to be productive, and you want to work hard in a fun industry, then the skills can be taught.”
For a successful career in automotive, Graham says communication skills, interest in technology, and teamwork are the keys to success – the rest comes in training.
“I’ve learned so much being here and working with such a close-knit awesome culture,” she said. “There’s such an emphasis on giving opportunities to less experienced people like myself but also providing us with the resources to be successful.”
As a mother of three, Graham is appreciative of the flexibility and culture that supports her professional and personal life. “As a woman in automotive, it’s been an excellent experience,” she said. “But don’t mistake it, it takes a lot of support. And it takes a lot of team effort.”
Graham’s career doesn’t stop here though. “It’s been an amazing ride but I’m definitely just getting started,” she said.
Graham joined a NADA Show 2023 LiveStage panel sponsored by Women Driving Auto Retail to discuss tactics to hire and retain women in auto retail. See the panel here.
In conjunction with Black History Month, this article is part of a series celebrating the African American voices working in the auto retail industry.
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