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Maria Soklis, president of Cox Automotive Canada & Brazil

Well, it’s no secret given recent media coverage that I will be stepping down from my position as president of Cox Automotive Canada & Brazil and have elected to leave the company at the end of October. I’m leaving at the right time for both the business and myself, and I couldn’t be any happier about the great shape our company is in here in Canada. But as many of you can guess, I am also sad to be leaving behind a fantastic team that has worked tirelessly over the last six years to move the business forward, to better meet customer needs and to help influence and shape our industry in a time of transformation, expedited by the pandemic.

New Directions, New Horizons

For those of you who may have missed the news or wish to better understand the change, let me help explain what we are doing.

Cox Automotive announced that it will transition its Canadian reporting into the United States as part of a decision to simplify its structure and offer common products and services to both local and global customers.  As such, my position will not be replaced.

This makes good sense at this juncture for Cox Automotive Canada for a couple of reasons. First, it has long been closely aligned with the U.S. operation due to its geographic proximity. Second, with more and more shared customers, this change will allow Cox to provide consistency and improved service through synergistic efficiencies realized through shared platforms.

Reflecting back

My role at Cox Automotive Canada began with the Manheim operation six years ago.  Since then, we grew the Canadian business to include many more brands including Dealertrack, Dealer.com, Kelley Blue Book, Ready Logistics and NextGear Capital. We supported a connected automotive ecosystem that has touched many of your businesses as Cox Automotive became the number one automotive service company in Canada.

While I’m extremely proud of the business accomplishments, I also cherish the opportunities we were afforded to make a positive impact on people and our communities:

  • We brought together like-minded partners and customers for the first-ever Canadian Automotive Industry Build in support of Habitat for Humanity.
  • We established our Women With Drive employee resource group and leveraged this group to break down gender barriers ultimately creating a pipeline of female leaders and a senior leadership team comprised of over 50 per cent female representation.
  • In 2021 we were a driving force to further strengthen inclusivity efforts, this time focusing on combatting anti-black and systemic racism through the support of our Black Employee Network. I was honoured to be the automotive industry’s first leader to sign the BlackNorth Initiative’s CEO Pledge and am happy to report that we are well on our way to meet all the requirements of the pledge.
  • And through the support of the newly founded, not-for-profit Accelerate Auto, we established two student awards with Georgian College’s Automotive Business School of Canada to further promote diversity and inclusivity in the future of our industry.

Diversity, equity and inclusivity are not only pillars at Cox Automotive Canada but have also positively influenced our business success by attracting and keeping the best talent. It is something I have always personally promoted amongst our industry not only because of the obvious commercial benefits but also and arguably more importantly, because it is simply the right thing to do.

It is with all of these and many other efforts that we attained one of our most treasured accomplishments, Cox Automotive Canada being named one of Greater Toronto’s Top Employers for 2020 and 2021. An honour bestowed by our people and a recognition which I hope continues into 2022 and for years to come.

 Conclusion

I have enjoyed my time at Cox Automotive standing up and growing a successful subsidiary, building and working with a fantastic team, and positively influencing some of the change undergoing our industry. I have enjoyed working with some great partners and I have also enjoyed supporting and shaping the path forward for many of our loyal customers and thank them wholeheartedly for their unwavering support.

I would also like to thank Canadian AutoWorld for providing me this opportunity to share my thoughts with the industry.

Please rest assured that the Cox Automotive business in Canada will continue to remain an important part of the Cox Automotive family and a leading product and service provider. They are poised for further investment and to support our team through this next and very exciting phase.  So you see, Cox Automotive is ready, are you?