Introducing Gracielle: one of the Women Fueling the Automotive World.

DSMA gained a new valuable associate this week: meet Gracielle Sills! With over 15 years of experience in the automotive industry, we are looking forward to the wealth of knowledge she will bring to the table. She will be working alongside our very own François McDonald to help dealers across the province of Quebec with their buy/sell needs. The duo will fully cover transactions, from valuations and listings all the way to acquisitions, accompanying their clients every step of the way.

We took a moment to sit down with her and get to learn a little more about François’ new partner.

 

Introducing GracielleTell us a little bit about yourself. What brought you to this industry?

I pretty much grew up in the automotive world. My father owned dealerships for over 40 years, so the automotive language was no stranger to my household. However, the way I ended up in this industry was not a straight and narrow path at all: I actually started out by working at a bank while I was studying fashion merchandising. My schedule was packed with studies, participating in store openings for the Aldo and Dynamite Group, and hours spent working at the bank.

Eventually, I developed a passion for helping dealers with their financing and operational needs, from building leases and acquisitions, inventory, Goodwill, and more. After a while, anything non automotive-related no longer interested me. Over the span of 18 years, I ended up occupying every single banking position related to dealership assistance at BMO.

So, I did end up following in my father’s footsteps after all, but in my own independent way. I guess you could say all roads lead me to the automotive world.

 

What are your thoughts on the current auto industry?

The industry is currently experiencing a massive shift – and to find success, people need to keep an open mind. We are entering an interesting and faster-moving era, filled with technological advance, a race for the electric vehicle movement, and tons of innovation. However, these are also paired with heightening interest rates and a lot of uncertainty. Will we switch business models? Will large inventories stand the test of time? With new environmental laws, many things can change.

I have witnessed myself how many dealers are expressing concern and curiosity towards a more European showroom model, lowering both inventory and real estate costs. Although we currently see agency models affecting luxury brands, I could see mainstream brands follow with time.

 

Why should more women join you in this industry?

Because there are still so little of us! In fact, I was the only woman in my field for a very long time at the bank. I know excellent female leaders in the industry who made me realize how much balance and creativity we bring to the business world and how much we lack representation within it…ladies, it could really use more of us. And to all younger women reading this: you don’t have to be passionate about cars, the industry is so interesting and multifaceted in itself!

 

What do you think makes Quebec a unique place to highlight and facilitate dealership sales?

This province is truly unique as we have a spending culture which makes for an incredibly active and highly profitable market. Dealers are doing well because people here always want the next best thing. We are constantly influenced by the latest trends, which makes both the buyer and seller win in the end. I can say from experience that there is space for everyone to succeed here.

 

Lastly, (enough about cars!) what is an activity that you are passionate about?

My passion is related to something I believe all businesspeople should do at least once in their life: go to the Disney Academy. Indeed, having travelled to the theme parks myself many times, I decided to enroll in their institute courses to bring a touch of magic to a sometimes-colder banking world. It helped me differentiate myself in this business: through leadership, customer service, and employee engagement courses, I found a new way to approach my work.

What I discovered by getting to know their branding and training, other than the positive aspects it brought to my automotive job, is that I absolutely love planning trips for people. So, by organizing itineraries for all my family and friends, I ended up discovering a side career for myself! Being used to a fully-booked schedule, I recently started working as a travel agent on nights and weekends for Disney and Universal bookings…and I absolutely love it!

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