Real Model Interview featuring Carole Merry, Franchise Director at Marshall Motor Group and Inspiring Automotive Woman Award Winner for 2021

We had the pleasure of catching up with Carole Merry, Franchise Director at Marshall Motor Group.

Carole explains more about her role as Franchise Director, and what she enjoys most about her role. She explains what makes her happiest, her future ambitions, and one of her worst traits. Carole also highlights the importance of being yourself as a leader, and urges women to ‘work hard and get comfortable putting yourself forward, and taking chances’.

Read more below.

How did you feel to be nominated by your colleagues in the Inspiring Automotive Women Awards 2021 and how did it feel to be one of our winners?

It was lovely to be nominated by a few people within MMG this year (direct reports and peers) and even better to be one of the winners. It was particularly humbling to receive so many positive comments post the award announcement from colleagues past and present and hear that I’ve made a difference in some way.

What is your job and what does it involve? 

I’m one of 7 Franchise Director’s for MMG, I’m responsible for 17 businesses, representing 3 brands currently: Honda, Volvo & LEVC. My businesses stretch across 15 different market areas from Scarborough in the north to Reading in the south so my job involves a fair bit of travelling between sites and regular meetings with brand partners. Whilst my job varies hugely from day to day, I’m ultimately responsible for the performance and compliance of each of my sites and the well-being of a large team.

How long have you worked in the sector?

I’ve worked in the sector for 20 years… A lot has changed in the automotive retail environment in this time (particularly from a diversity & inclusion perspective) and I’m proud to have played a small part in this.

What do you like best about your job?

My team! I’m happiest when I’m in my businesses, where I get to make a real difference. We work hard as a team but we try to have a little fun as well.

What are your future aspirations?

To keep learning and developing as a Franchise Director. I work closely with some of the very best in the industry so every day is a school day!

Can you name a woman in automotive that inspires you and why? 

Whilst I have worked with a number of exceptional women, they have tended to have very specialist roles such as HR, Marketing and Finance. Having said that, a number of women have given me much needed support and mentorship or simply inspired me to do better. From Caroline Blake-Symes who was an amazing lecturer at Loughborough University in the early stages of my career to Rebecca Stead (Head of Cars at Honda UK) who is fantastic role model for any woman wanting to work in our sector. I’m also inspired daily by the fantastic women, in my team who I’m sure make it all look so much easier than I did back in the day!

What makes you happy?

I’m happiest when I have the opportunity to feel like I’ve made a difference, I love rolling my sleeves up and getting involved with my teams and I’m really proud of the culture across my division. I’m privileged to work in an industry where passion and hard work will always standout and my teams have this in spades!

Which word or phrase do you most overuse?

Whilst I’d love to be able to tell you it’s something fabulous or inspirational my son would probably tell you it’s just one word – ‘seriously?!’. I say it a lot apparently…

What is your worst trait?

Not taking things too personally is still very much work in progress for me and I can be a little impatient sometimes.

How would you like to be recognised (as an inspiration to others)?

It took me too long to be myself as a leader, I spent years emulating male colleagues as I genuinely thought this was necessary to be successful. I barely recognise myself when I look back to my first Franchise Director’s role a decade ago and I hope that if nothing else people remember my inclusive and authentic approach. It’s ok to be yourself – no one does that role better!

What advice would you give to women who are wanting to progress in the sector?

Work hard and get comfortable putting yourself forward, and taking chances, our male colleagues may seem to find this a little easier / that it comes more naturally but quite simply it’s a skill that we all need to work on. And finally, it’s simply not true that all of the women that inspire us have found the perfect balance in life – we all have good and bad days so stop beating yourself up!

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