WinA Member of the Month
This month, we are featuring Vesna Vrankovic.
Vesna currently works at Peter Warren Automotive Holdings Limited as the Head of People and Culture. In her Q&A, she talks about how important it is to have a can do mindset, especially as a single mother.
Know of someone you would like to see featured as our next Women in Automotive Member of the Month, or interested in sharing your own automotive story? Get in touch below and let us know.
Tell us a bit about your current role or involvement in the automotive industry.
Growing up in Western Sydney, it was hard not to form a passion for fast cars and motorbikes and obtain an appreciation of motorsports. I currently work at Peter Warren Automotive Holdings (PWAH). I’ve been with the company for two years and I have seen the company go from strength to strength. It has been a privilege to be part of the family. My role as the Head of People and Culture for the group is to empower our people to be their best and, in turn, lead with excellence. I'm fortunate to work for a company that reflects its values and continues to build the culture on which the company was founded.
What was your first professional experience within the automotive industry?
I commenced my career working within the furniture manufacturing industry before securing my first role in the automotive industry. My automotive journey started with Harley-Davidson Australia (Bikes). I then moved on to Scott's Refrigerated logistics (Trucks) before transitioning to Peter Warren Automotive Holdings (Cars).
Do you think you have experienced challenges within the industry that your male counterparts have not?
The biggest challenge for me has been self-doubt. It's common for women to feel like we're not good enough, smart enough or skilled enough while our male colleagues are confident and steadfast in the boardroom. As a single mum of two, I have the extra challenge of facing the stereotype that single mums can’t balance a career and kids. To that I say, watch me!
With a great support group of diverse female leaders and a manager who encourages and challenges me, I've had a powerful mindset shift from “I can't” to "I will". Anyone can shift your mindset and find your inner drive, you just need the right tools.
I have found that within the automotive industry there is no competition between men and women, rather it’s all about smashing your own goals each and every time. It's not who gets there, it’s how we get there and when!
What is your biggest achievement within the automotive industry, personal or professional?
Professionally, landing a role in automotive, specifically my current role is my biggest achievement. I started in the company to build a People and Culture structure which would empower people to be their best. I'm responsible for attracting diverse talent to join this industry and that's a real game changer!
Personally, I have shown my children that no matter what life throws at you, ultimately you choose where you land. It is up to you whether you rise or fall. It is all about choices.
Do you have a favorite resource as a woman working in the automotive industry? Maybe a book, event, organization, mentor, or online platform?
I follow many female leaders via LinkedIn and other social media platforms. While LinkedIn isn’t a single source of truth, it’s a great tool for networking. However, my general source of strength as a woman in this industry comes from surrounding myself with other strong female leaders from diverse industries, careers, and areas of expertise. Diverse thinking and ideas can give you a strategic edge, so it’s important to leverage the networks around you.
Who is your inspiration as a female in automotive?
Throughout my career I have been the quiet achiever. I’ve never been one to showcase myself (until this article). Someone I look up to is Mary Barra, Chair and CEO of General Motors. She has achieved a lot in her career, and it is that steadfast, get it done approach that I admire. The accolades will come, but not without doing the work!
What is the best piece of advice that you have received or that you could give to another woman working in the automotive industry?
Question don’t assume. Listen and understand fully before you speak. Remove your fears. Speak with confidence. You deserve the seat at the table.
I don’t think these pieces of advice are just for the automotive industry either, but for women in any industry that is male dominated.