Ian Leslie, AADA Convention Host and Veronica Johns, CEO - Fiat Chrysler Group Australia

‘I love this industry, I love Dealers, I love cars’

In her stirring keynote address, Veronica Johns opened the Convention with the trademark enthusiasm that has marked her astonishing career.

From the moment she walked on stage, Veronica Johns had the audience engaged as she prepared herself to deliver one of the most inspiring addresses of the Convention.

Genuine and down to earth, yet undeniably driven and ambitious, delegates quickly learned how the country’s first Australian woman to head an automotive company in Oz rose through the ranks and into the top job.

As the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Group in Australia, Johns oversees the performance and profitability of not just one brand, but six, including Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Fiat Professional.
Naturally, thanks to her exceptional achievements, Johns has been asked to speak at countless events and conventions, most of which she’s politely declined, until the AADA’s invitation. Johns explained that the opportunity to speak at the Convention really resonated with her passion for the automotive industry – and it certainly showed.

Amongst the topics and ideas Johns shared, she explained that one common truth bonded most of the delegates, explaining that ‘our business is all about numbers.’ Indeed, no matter the department or the KPI being discussed ‘it [always] comes back to numbers’.

Johns shared some of the numbers that have been important to her business; including the 3246 people who’ve helped shape Fiat Chrysler Group’s success in Australia in 2013. This example, along with several others, highlighted just how much importance Johns places on people, not only customers, but every team member involved in the business – from yardies, technicians and Dealers, to the people immediately around her in head office.

On a more personal level, Johns reflected on her own 15 year journey through Fiat Chrysler Jeep in Australia. Originally hired as Personal Assistant to the Finance Director, she later took on roles in marketing, dealer development and sales management.

Eventually she became the Director of Sales, a role in which she was very successful, before accepting the position of CEO in 2013. Of course, taking on such a responsibility involves constant personal development and acquiring of news skills – both of which Johns has grasped with two hands.

In preparation for her new role (or any leadership position) Johns explained how important it was to ‘identify your strengths and weaknesses’ as well as ‘push your ego out of the way.’ As such, Johns capitalised on her strengths and made the necessary steps to improve her skills in other areas. She also talked about the importance of building relationships, both internally and externally, focusing on one simple but often forgotten fact: if they like you, they will help you.

Being liked was certainly not a problem for Johns at the Convention; many delegates were impressed with her astute advice and clear talent for storytelling.

At the end of her address, Johns left the audience to ponder the real force behind Fiat Chrysler Group Australia’s success over the past four years. Like many others, she credits the company’s excellent marketing efforts, however she applauds the people behind the marketing and who’ve contributed to all aspects of the business even more.

Indeed, Johns was quick to note that the company could never have achieved its amazing growth ‘if we had not allowed people to do amazing things.’

What the Dealers said:

“Top Notch, Loved it”
“Excellent. Powerful Speaker.”
“Powerful Message.”
“Veronica was #awesome”
“Great speaker. Would like to see more female representatives speaking”
“Inspiring and motivating.
Awesome speaker!”
“Probably the best keynote I’ve heard!”
“Confident, articulate and extremely interesting. Loved Veronica’s speech. Wish she was on for longer.”
“Great presentation. Honest, keep it simple message. Thank you.”

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