Shattering the glass ceiling in the Canadian automotive industry
Susan Gubasta has deep roots in the car business. Her dad owned several dealerships in Canada and he passed his passion down to her. Today, Gubasta is president and CEO of Mississauga Toyota Scion – one of just a handful of women who hold that sort of automotive job in Canada. Gubasta worked her way up the corporate ladder more than 20 years ago, learning the ropes. It wasn’t always smooth sailing.
Perceptions started to shift when she became general manager. “The last 10 years have been amazing because I was embraced right from the get-go working with other dealers from the Toyota brand,” she says. “I felt so intimidated walking into meetings, but they embraced me and it was a whole different world. When you get to that level, they think, ‘She is here for a reason – she has proved herself.’”
Out of 82 Toyota dealerships in Ontario, Gubasta is one of only four females at the helm. “The auto industry is male-dominated. The difficulty is the hours. We are a store. We are a retail environment. We’re open until nine o’clock Monday to Thursday and Saturday, so women that have families find it more difficult to manage and have the proper balance in their lives,” says Gubasta, who is a mother of a seven-year-old son.
White says the key to overcoming stereotypes is to work hard and show customers you care. “You keep professional,” she says. “You keep calm. Then they realize I do have extensive knowledge and I do care about their vehicle. Once that is established, then they break down that barrier.”