Women Making History in Automotive Retail

Women Dealership Software leaders pictured

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Dominion DMS applauds the women in automotive who have contributed to the industry’s advancement. From breaking corporate glass ceilings to breaking stereotypes on the service lane, these women forged new paths and empowered a new generation to pursue careers in automotive retail.

Arlene Clements, Vice President of Business Development, Dominion DMS

Arlene Clements brings over 20 years of experience working with dealers and OEMs, including a breadth of expertise in automotive software. She began her career training dealership personnel on DMS before moving into consulting, working with dealers to optimize their software utilization of DMS (Dealer Management Software), CRM, and other services. As integration and data became more important in the late 1990s, Arlene managed data services for a DMS provider, working with third parties to integrate them into the system. Afterward, she worked with public and large dealer groups—such as AutoNation, Penske, Lithia, Hendrick and Sonic—to identify custom needs and required integrations to maximize their value. Given her experience working with OEMs on their lead management and CRM initiatives, it was a natural transition to her role, where she is responsible for all strategic partnerships with Dominion DMS.

“When I entered the industry, there were few women, especially in leadership roles. Since then, the number of women and their contributions has grown exponentially over the last few decades. They are helping to reshape the automotive industry by leading and inspiring others to follow the same path.”

Jane Cannone, Vice President of Product Management, Dominion DMS

Jane Cannone has over 19 years of experience in software development and multi-team management.  Twenty years ago, she started her career at TraderOnline, now known as Dominion Enterprises, the parent company of Dominion DMS. She worked in both the automotive and real estate divisions.  Jane also has experience leading product and technical teams in the enterprise resource planning sector. She has held various roles in product management, project management, management of technical support, and quality assurance.  Jane’s ability to assess the big picture and strategically place technical professionals in the best roles and projects moves a business forward.  She excels at negotiation and communication to bring consensus within a team and between internal and external stakeholders.

“A female co-worker once told me how much it meant to see me as a woman in a technology leadership role.  Having grown up in what used to be a predominantly male department, I never thought about it—I simply made my place and made sure I was heard.  I had not stopped to think that I was moving against a tide. I did it because there was work to be done, and I could do that work.  This also meant I had not stopped to think about how much my trajectory influenced other women coming up in technology. I am thankful this co-worker pointed that out to me.”

Blair Cross, Customer Service Director, Dominion DMS

Blair Cross has assisted dealers with their DMS software needs for over 20 years. She began her journey by implementing hundreds of dealerships on Dominion DMS’ legacy product, ACCESS.  When she wasn’t traveling on-site to dealerships, she supported customers in the Mobile, Alabama office.  Blair now oversees the managers of the Dominion DMS Services teams, including Project Management, Deployment, Learning and Development, Implementation, Performance Optimization, Customer Advocacy, and Customer Support.  Blair has helped grow the Services organization into what it is today.

“Every day and with every interaction, I try to be the leader that I would want to work with.”

Trish Hobby, Executive Director of Services, Dominion DMS

Trish Hobby is a business process and change management devotee.  As Executive Director of Services for Dominion DMS, she leads the talented teams responsible for training, implementing, and supporting the VUE platform. Trish began her career in automotive in the early 1980s with a large DMS provider. She developed a passion for delivering outstanding customer service through routinely evaluating processes and procedures and looking for innovative solutions to improve the client experience.  After 36 years, Trish was ready for a new challenge. She joined a company that is a leading data provider that dealers use to evaluate their markets and fine-tune their marketing strategies. In this role, Trish was introduced to the Cloud environment and its unique advantages and challenges in the automotive market. She credits her longevity in the industry to her insatiable curiosity, the ever-changing landscape of the business, and her desire to leave things better than she found them. 

“I have seen tremendous change and growth for women in the four decades I have worked in automotive. Women in leadership roles were rare when I started, and there were fewer female dealers.  Today,  27.1% of automotive management roles are held by women, and 32.8% of dealers are women, leaving a lot of runway for the next generation of women to make their mark.”

Sharon Kitzman, President, Dominion DMS

Sharon Kitzman is a dealership software pioneer and dealer advocate. As President of Dominion DMS, she leads a team in launching VUE, the first cloud-native DMS built on Microsoft Azure. Previously, Sharon worked for several automotive software providers, where she held leadership positions in sales, marketing, product lifecycle management, process re-engineering, OEM management, professional and customer services. With a reputation for successfully launching new products and growing market share, Sharon’s experience marks a pioneering career that’s paved the way for three decades for women in the automotive industry. She was twice named to the Automotive News Top 100 Leading Women.

“When I started in the industry, there weren’t many women. Today, I see many talented women holding leadership positions—several of whom are right here in our own company and the partners we work with. I am proud to have their experience and guidance as we grow the market for Dominion DMS.”

Terri Grubbs, Controller, Mack Grubbs Hyundai

Terri Grubbs has been in a dealership for as long as she can remember. Her father became a dealer when she was 10, where she gained hands-on experience and learned what keeps the business going. After finishing her accounting degree, she moved back home to work in the family dealership. With such in-depth experience, Terri can see herself following in her father’s footsteps someday as a dealer. While she received much support in her career, Terri recognizes the challenges women face in the automotive retail business.  Telecommuting and flexibility will be keys to creating a work-life balance for more women to succeed in the industry.

“A lot of my job can be done from home now. With VUE being cloud-based, it is an example of how technology can open opportunities for women in roles that traditionally weren’t as accessible.”  

Jennifer Settlemires, Office Manager, Griffis Motors

Jennifer Settlemires began working at Griffis Motors 28 years ago after graduating from college. At the time, it was primarily male-dominated, but she was determined to learn every position. Her grandmother Jean Griffis, the first woman in the Southeastern region to be awarded a franchise that a husband or father didn’t own, started Jennifer out as a cashier. She worked in service for a couple of years. She took on those responsibilities when the parts manager was called up for war. Soon after, she conquered F&I. Jennifer grew up in Griffis Motors, and her favorite part of running a dealership is talking to customers and seeing new people daily. Her grandmother’s larger-than-life legacy inspires her to give 100% every day.

“My grandmother taught me more than any college ever could. It was a man’s job when I started here, and I was determined to learn every position. I think women can do anything they want – I proved that.”

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