“In my entire career in automotive, I’ve RARELY had a female boss. That’s something that must change.”
Amy Fleming, Senior Director of Regional Operations and Sales, Mazda Canada
Unflappable, positive and creative, Mazda Canada’s Amy Fleming shares how she plans to keep driving forward.
Describe Mazda in three words.
Exhilarating, craftsmanship and connections.
What is your favorite Mazda and why?
I’ll go with my heart and pick an MX‑5 Miata. The thrill that you get driving it and having my kids take turns driving in it with me—it’s just so exciting.
Do you have a favorite drive?
I live in Caledon, Ontario, and there’s a road just a couple of kilometers from my house called Forks of the Credit. The Credit is a river, so the road takes two different forks from this river. It’s probably one of the best driving roads in Ontario; it’s winding, there’s a great hairpin turn on it, it’s hilly, and there’s just gorgeous scenery. It’s my favorite drive by far.
Where were you born?
In Nova Scotia, in a town called Antigonish on Canada’s east coast. It’s a small town of about 5,000 people. I’m from a large family. I actually have 79 first cousins.
How would you describe your current job at Mazda?
It’s exciting. I oversee sales operations, which includes supply chains, distribution, incentives planning, certified pre-owned sales, marketing, network development and regional operations.
What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?
The relationships and connections with our colleagues around the world, especially in Japan, and with our customers. We have this common purpose in Mazda Canada to create the finest automotive experience that ignites passion in the people we serve. Seeing it come to life is what motivates me and makes me excited.
You’ve been with Mazda for 15 years. How has it evolved?
Mazda Canada partnered with the Disney Institute seven or eight years ago to work on Ignite the Passion, our customer service framework, which has made the most significant change. Our retailers ranked us number one in communications for the third year in a row, as well as number one in overall satisfaction. So that’s a huge pride point for us.
What was it like being named by Automotive News as one of the 100 leading women in the North American auto industry in 2020?
That was exciting. In 2020, they had the most nominations they’d ever received. You submit a profile—share your organizational structure, including how many people report to you, and describe the scope of your role—and answer a number of questions about things you’ve accomplished. Internal and external committees review all the nominations.
It does feel like there are more women in the automotive industry now. Would you agree?
Yes. One hundred percent. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been the only female in the room, and sometimes that still happens, but we’ve made huge changes, especially within Mazda Canada.
Tell us about the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee you’re part of.
We started the committee three years ago and I’m one of the executive champions. It’s made up of volunteer employees who are passionate about making a difference in this area. Another of our leadership values is inclusivity, and we’ve done training [for internal teams] around Pride and International Women’s Day. We’ve also done unconscious bias training, and are trying to identify barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in the selection and recruitment process.
Did you have any female role models in the industry?
In my entire career in automotive, I’ve rarely had a female boss. So that’s something that must change—and somewhere I can make a change. Not having a female mentor meant there weren’t people with the same work responsibilities as me, dealing with the challenges of being a mother, like trying to balance work commitments and business travel with finding childcare, for example.
Finally, what sort of legacy would you like to leave at Mazda?
Ensuring that other females in our organization don’t have to be the first—that they have a path that they can follow. Being the only female adds pressure, whether you’re aware of it or not. Looking back, I put extra pressure on myself because you want to be successful in this role and try to prove yourself. I don’t want other females to have that kind of pressure. They should just feel free to be authentic, be themselves, and bring their best version of themselves to work.
Interview by Helene Dancer / Zoom photo by Fran Monks
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