Wednesday, 01 June 2016 16:17

Guess Who’s One of the Most Strategic Links in the Automotive Value Chain?

At the recent Women’s Industry Network (WIN) Educational Conference, Enterprise Holdings Inc.’s Susan Lombardo emphasized the distinct but equally critical roles that the car rental and collision repair sectors play in the automotive value chain.

Lombardo is senior vice president of Vehicle Acquisition for Enterprise Holdings, which owns the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands. According to Enterprise Holdings, it is the largest car rental company in the world, as measured by revenue, fleet and employees.


Lombardo was one of several guest speakers at the WIN conference. WIN is a nonprofit dedicated to encouraging, developing and cultivating opportunities to attract women to collision repair while recognizing excellence, promoting leadership and fostering a network among women who are shaping the industry.


Lombardo’s conference session, titled “Guess Who’s One of the Most Strategic Links in the Automotive Value Chain?” focused on how both car rental and collision repair are undergoing a dramatic change, notably through urbanization and technology, including the rise of autonomous vehicles.


“Many drivers experience new automotive technologies for the first time in rental vehicles – we call them ‘extended test drives,’” Lombardo said. “As manufacturers move further down the line with self-driving vehicles, I have no doubt that the U.S. car rental industry will be an early adopter and will be able to help introduce autonomous driving technology to millions of consumers … just as we have done with anti-lock braking, stop-start technology, hybrid electric vehicles and all of the other new technologies that are introduced every year.”


She also highlighted the crucial role of collision repair companies when autonomous vehicles are eventually introduced to the public at large. “Even if autonomous cars drive themselves tomorrow, they won’t be able to repair themselves when – not if – something goes wrong,” Lombardo said.


Women in the Automotive Value Chain


In addition, Lombardo identified another strategic link in the automotive value chain – women. “There’s simply no doubt that the role of women is growing and advancing,” she stated. “We’re all moving forward at a breakneck speed, just like every other aspect of auto industry.”

Moreover, as consumers’ tastes change in favor of more advanced and technologically complex vehicles, Lombardo maintained that women are well positioned to lead. “Women have been particularly good at navigating through transition, with our focus on listening, finding creative solutions and powering through problems.”


Lombardo oversees the acquisition of more than a million cars every year for Enterprise Holdings and is responsible for supplying the company’s entire U.S. fleet. Last year, Lombardo’s 30-year career was highlighted on Fortune.com.


Lombardo joined four other panelists at the 2015 International Car Rental Show to discuss the competitive U.S. auto rental marketplace, including fleet acquisitions and disposal, operational issues, franchise and manufacturer relations, and legislative challenges. “Manufacturers have discovered that car rental – regardless of whether it’s for an hour, a day, a week or longer – is a significant link in the automotive value chain,” she stressed at the industry convention.


Women are well represented in senior leadership positions throughout Enterprise Holdings. A major driver of Enterprise’s inclusive culture is the company’s promote-from-within philosophy, which rewards employees based on performance rather than seniority and creates opportunities to quickly climb the corporate ladder. “It’s a relentless, but fair process that highlights the best performers – period – and opens doors for women in every one of our lines of business,” Lombardo noted.


For example, Pam Nicholson is only the third chief executive officer in Enterprise’s history. Nicholson not only is the highest-ranking woman at Enterprise Holdings, but also in the car rental industry and in the broader travel industry. In addition, Nicholson has been ranked among the 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry by Automotive News and has been on Fortune Magazine’s ranking of the Most Powerful Women in Business for the past nine years.


Nicholson is joined by several outstanding female executives at Enterprise, including executive vice president and chief operating officer Christine Taylor, senior vice president and treasurer Rose Langhorst, and Enterprise Holdings Foundation vice president and executive director Carolyn Kindle Betz.


For more information about Enterprise Holdings, visit www.go.enterpriseholdings.com.

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