In a key complement to our Women in Remarketing and Women in Auto Finance franchises, Auto Remarketing is proud to celebrate our second annual Women in Retail awards, a program sponsored by CarGurus.
We spotlight these honorees in the Oct. 15 issue of Auto Remarketing, which includes Q&As with each recipient of the award.
Next up is Sejal Pietrzak, chief executive officer and president of DealerSocket
Auto Remarketing: What was your career path to the retail auto industry? Did you always see yourself in this line of work?
Sejal Pietrzak: I’ve always loved technology that makes things simpler, faster and more innovative for those utilizing the software, and that’s what DealerSocket offers to dealers. My family has deep roots in automotive. I was born just outside of Detroit, and three uncles were engineers at Ford and GM.
For years, my sister worked in one of the industry’s many verticals, and my cousin has been in automotive sales. So, in some ways, joining DealerSocket three years ago as CEO was me ‘finally getting into the family business,’ as my cousins said to me.
AR: What is a book you have read that has influenced or helped your career?
SP: Alfred Lansing’s ‘Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage,’ which is about British explorer Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 failed attempt to reach the South Pole, has influenced me for the past 15 years since I first read it. It’s about leadership, perseverance, and overcoming significant adversity against all the odds.
It has inspired me as I have overcome challenges, and reminded me that being optimistic and believing in a positive outcome is critical. Most of all, it really showed the importance of caring first and foremost for the people on our team.
AR: What accomplishment or moment in your career are you most proud of?
SP: As CEO of DealerSocket, I am incredibly proud of our recent acquisition of Auto/Mate. As a combined company, we now offer dealers a new choice for a dealer-first integrated platform solution, combining Auto/Mate as a leading DMS offering with our award-winning DealerSocket solutions. I believe the coming together of our two great companies is a game-changer for dealers, and represents an opportunity for them to work with a company that deeply cares about their success, is focused on offering best-in-class customer service, and spends significant resources on innovation and investment in our software.
I’m happy that the acquisition is proving to be the game-changer for our industry that we had expected it to be. Our customers are already experiencing success from the integrations we’ve launched, as well as an integrated customer experience. And we will have even more innovations and integrations to announce in early 2021.
I am also proud of our new diversity and inclusion initiatives at DealerSocket, including a new group called SocketWomen that creates an opportunity for our team members companywide to inspire and strengthen each other.
Our SocketWomen leaders and team members who have joined the group have been innovative in ideas for this program, including mentoring, philanthropy, connections, collaboration, and supporting career and professional development for our DealerSocket team members.
AR: What do you enjoy most about working in the auto industry?
SP: As I previously mentioned, I’ve always been drawn to technology and its impact on lives and industries, and I believe software drives industries forward. That’s what drew me to the automotive retail sector when the opportunity to join DealerSocket arose. Our industry continues to utilize technology and is on the cusp of transformation — including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and business insights, all from software — that will help us transform, grow, and offer even better consumer and overall automotive experiences.
I’ve always appreciated the entrepreneurial spirit of dealers. They continue to prove that no challenge is too great. Dealers showed resilience during the Great Recession, and they’re doing it again through the COVID-19 pandemic. So, to be able to impact this industry in a positive way — that’s one of the things that makes my role with DealerSocket so fulfilling. It’s a great purpose to have.”
AR: Describe a time when you have been challenged professionally and what you learned from it.
SP: I’d say the COVID-19 crisis has been a very challenging situation for all of us globally. I have led our company through this crisis with positivity, calm, transparency, and optimism. And our employees know I am, first and foremost, focused on them and their health and safety, while continuing to maintain our very high standards of white-glove service for our dealers.
We have been doing everything we can to support dealers through the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, we offered to our customers significant discounts on our software in April and May. Back in the spring, we launched our Dealership Loan Navigator, which helped dealers apply for the CARES Act loans (e.g., PPP loans). We also offered innovative software solutions, such as our PrecisePrice digital retailing tool and other products, for free to help and support our 9,000-plus dealers.
I think this period also allowed us to take a step back and examine technology’s role in the consumer journey, and the touchpoints between technology and the showroom. Our focus continues to be on providing dealers with a platform that frees them to define and improve the experience at each step of the consumer journey.