Real Model Interview featuring Jennifer Koontz, Assistant Vice President, European Airport Properties & Relations at Enterprise Holdings and Inspiring Automotive Woman of the Year

We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jennifer Koontz, Assistant Vice President, European Airport Properties & Relations at Enterprise Holdings and overall Inspiring Automotive Woman of the Year at the Automotive 30% Club’s Inspiring Automotive Women Awards 2022. 

Read more below.

How did you feel to be nominated by your colleagues in the Inspiring Automotive Women Awards 2022 and how did it feel to be recognised as our Inspiring Automotive Woman of the Year? 

I felt truly shocked and surprised. It was so nice to be recognised in this way, especially with so many great people doing loads of amazing work in this area in our industry.

What action have you taken that led to you being nominated for the award?

I’ve always been passionate about women achieving in the workplace and promoting a culture of equity for all whether that is career opportunities or sponsorship. This has been done in part by introducing employee
resource groups such as a WIN (the Women’s Initiative Network), our Parent Resource Network and internal and external mentoring programmes. It’s also important to me that we have open conversations around women’s
health at all stages of life and provide colleagues with resources to best support one another and their teams like when we raised awareness about menstruation and perimenopause.

What does your job involve? What do you like best about it?

I work closely with our partners across EMEA on car rental operations in airports and rail stations – from identifying new opportunities to tendering, to contract negotiations, to facility matters. I enjoy the challenge the role brings and that every day is different, and my favourite part is collaborating with our branch employees, airport and rail partners, and other stakeholders in the transportation space.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Like many young people, I went through an evolution of career choices. I started out wanting to be an archaeologist (thank you, Indiana Jones), then a marine biologist, a lawyer and a lobbyist. Luckily, I’ve landed a role that allows me to use the skills required in two of those jobs (I’ll let the readers guess which two).

What or who inspired you to join the automotive sector?
I never really envisioned a career in automotive. I joined the Government & Public Affairs team at Enterprise 20 years ago and seeing the determination and passion to drive change from within the sector really inspired me to continue at Enterprise. I was inspired by everything that makes Enterprise special: a great place to build a career, supporting communities, promoting from within, a strong diverse and inclusive culture, being a fun place to work, and so much more. It’s fantastic to see the growing number of initiatives that support women in the automotive industry and the ways that these are helping us towards that goal of true gender balance to inspire the next generation of leaders.

What are your future aspirations? 
Future aspirations for me really centre around continuing to help develop female leadership across our organisation, highlighting successful women in a variety of roles and departments and instilling that sense of pride. There is a lot of work that we are doing internally that is key to our journey to make Enterprise the most trusted mobility provider and an employer of choice. It’s important for me to ensure that conversations about women in leadership are top of the agenda outside of my work at Enterprise, so highlighting what we do with our airport and rail partners, vendors and others outside of automotive is something I try to prioritise.

Can you name a woman in automotive that inspires you and why?
It would be impossible to name just one. It’s really all the women I work with, across all levels and departments, who are doing so many great things to inspire and support women in the workplace and the communities that we operate in that inspires me to do my best each and every day.

What do you think is the biggest challenge women face when trying to progress within the sector?
The biggest challenge for women is understanding the opportunities for progression that are available and how to continue on a development path that helps them to advance their careers. It’s often the case that women are over-mentored and under-sponsored so understanding how to upskill and develop networks is critical while also developing a strong personal brand and ensuring you are visible throughout your team and other areas of the organisation.

What advice can you give to other women who want to progress in their careers?
It’s more than OK to raise your hand for those opportunities! Reports have shown that women don’t go for job roles unless they feel they are 100 percent qualified, whereas men apply when they reach 60 percent. Progression opportunities are also opportunities to develop, so you don’t need to be the finished product and you can grow into the role. We should be pursuing challenging career steps, as well as talking about our own accomplishments and the accomplishments of the women around us

What advice can you give to men in the sector about helping to build a gender-balanced business?
Take a hard and honest look at the teams, departments and organisations around you. It’s important to identify those areas of bias and blind spots – your own or others’ in your teams. Ask others for their honest feedback even though you may not like what you hear. Men are a vital part of the solution. it’s not enough to just make roles for women or pull up an extra seat at the table. It’s about ensuring that the same opportunities are open and available to women.


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