No career path in a dealership looks the same. Opportunities vary across sales, service, finance, marketing, and more, and where employees start their auto journey is often not where they end up. Not only is there constant opportunity for growth and development into leadership positions, but the unique ecosystem of dealerships also offers lateral career changes that provide excitement and exploration in individual career paths.
Carmen Hinton is just one example of a successful path throughout the dealership departments. She started her career at Carter Myers Automotive’s Valley Subaru in Charlottesville, Va. 11 years ago as a receptionist. Soon she was moved to accounting, then to the service department. At first, she doubted her fit as a service advisor, then she grew to love the time spent with customers and her team. A couple of years later, she was promoted to service manager.
“Being a service advisor, excelling, is what gave me the opportunity that I have today,” Hinton said.
Hinton says she is driven by a quote from the Kenyan actress and producer Lupita Nyong'o: "No matter where you're from, your dreams are valid.”
“Not seeing many women of color in the same position as myself makes me strive to be better today than I was yesterday and excel further tomorrow,” Hinton said. After six years as the service manager, she says she is still learning every day. “There are always obstacles that I am overcoming, but I feel like it has made me a better person.”
Hinton leads a team of 14 technicians and advisors. “I like being the support system that people can rely on if they are in need of anything,” she said. “I like to be the cheerleader on the side to encourage everyone to be better.”
It’s not just her team that keeps her engaged though. Hinton is excited about the trajectory of the auto industry as a whole and the constant evolving and development thanks to technology. Most of all, she is driven by her customers. She says they are what keep the business moving.
“I love engaging with our customers when they come in,” she said. “Overall, the atmosphere is a family.”
In 2022, Hinton was named at the winner of the 5th annual Women Driving Auto Retail video contest and just this year, she presented the 6th annual WDAR video contest award to winners at NADA Show 2023.
In conjunction with Black History Month, this article is part of a series celebrating the African American voices working in the auto retail industry. Click here to read a previous article featuring Lerea Graham, general manager at Hello Mazda of Valencia in Valencia, Calif.
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