This week we’re highlighting a trailblazer in the automotive industry: Diane Sauer of Coldwater, Ohio. A talented businesswoman and community philanthropist, Diane took an interest in the industry when she joined Martin Chevrolet’s accounting team in 1976. Her savvy and financial capabilities helped her shape a career through several promotions, providing her with an indispensable skill set for the company. In 2003 she purchased the dealership she learned to love and changed the name to her very own - Diane Sauer Chevrolet, Inc.
VGV: Why do you believe it’s important to see women in C-level positions and as business owners?
D. Sauer: It’s absolutely important for women to know they’re capable of serving in business, and it’s important to all employees and people to see the inclusiveness of women in management.
VGV: Discuss your own journey in your industry. What challenges did you face as a woman in business? How did you overcome those challenges?
D. Sauer: I started out at the dealership at a very entry-level position. I had a B.A. in Accounting and had a difficult time finding a job, so I took a clerk position at the dealership and worked my way up in. I ended up buying the entire business. It was initially called Martin Chevrolet. As I worked my way through the positions I took over for a man in every position, so there were challenges early on in my career, naturally. In some cases, you just had to bear down and be strong and keep fighting. At times, frustrations bubbled up but the most important thing I learned was to be yourself. If I try to be someone else, it doesn’t work. I stay true to myself and let my talents speak for me.
VGV: What advice do you have for women entering the business world?
D. Sauer: Women should be grateful to their mothers and aunts who paved the way for them. They should also stay true to themselves. Be the woman you are. Use your talents and instincts and draw upon them when you need to.
VGV: What unique leadership style do you bring to the table as a woman? How does it impact your business?
D. Sauer: I believe in gaining consensus from my team rather than saying I’m the boss and being forceful. I love this style of leadership because I am able to garner my team’s support and trust through inclusivity.
A graduate of The Ohio State University, Diane’s community-oriented characteristics combined with her strong leadership and business mindset has set her apart as a trailblazer, as well as a valuable asset to the business world. Diane is a role model to not just women, but the community surrounding her.