Leonie Knipe recently won 2019 Telstra Western Australia Business Woman of the Year for her outstanding leadership skills in her role of Dealer Principal and Managing Director of three motor vehicle dealerships across Western Australia. Here she shares her inspiring story with The Carousel.
As a female coming from the small country town of Toodyay, in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, I never thought I would find myself in a leadership position in the automotive industry. I had to overcome cultural, geographical and biological obstacles throughout my journey to get to where I am, but I never gave up.
It has been a difficult journey getting to a leadership role in an industry that is typically unrepresented by women.
My path has seen me realise you don’t need to behave like your male counterparts to succeed – steer away from imposter syndrome. Instead celebrate your differences and recognise that you have unique qualities to bring to the table.
All the experiences within my career have shown me just how far the motor industry needs to come when appointing women in senior management roles.
I look forward to a time where these gender stereotypes no longer exist, and in particular hope to use my Telstra Business Women’s Award win to change this.
Diversity is essential
“You don’t need to behave like a man to succeed”Leonie Knipe
I’m trying to shape my business to a place that celebrates diversity and what makes us different.
I want my car yards to be as diverse as possible – to offer opportunity to all of those in a minority, from the elderly and the younger kids looking for their first opportunity to people with disability, and across all backgrounds.
I think there is a place for everybody in this world, and I truly believe it will improve businesses and have positive repercussion within society.
Invest in your community
As people chase the opportunities available to them in cities, small towns are rapidly shrinking.
I’ve dedicated a lot of my resources and time volunteering to build the community through offering my time to young drivers learning to drive and purchasing their first car – something that is extremely benefiting to achieve growth in rural and remote areas.
I’m also a huge advocate of ‘Be Local Buy Local’ and supporting and building those in the region through business, awareness, safe driving and community events.
Set goals and smash them
To get to where I am, I set goals. I knew where I wanted to be and I wasn’t going to take any biologically or geographically stand in my way. I was focused on becoming a leader from the get-go, and I used all the resources available to me to get there.
I have always sought input from my leadership team and expert advice from others in the industry or business. I’ve also tried to be that support system for my team, making sure I do everything I can to give them guidance and make them happy.
I want my business success to empower women and make them believe in
themselves while they build their businesses, set personal and career goals –
then smash them to succeed.
Now venturing into guest speaking and mentoring roles, I hope to help motivate women within the rural and remote areas of Western Australian to follow their dreams of corporate leadership, especially within male dominated industries.
I want to continue to break down barriers for women in male-dominated industries, and for them to know that they don’t need to move to the city to achieve their goals, success can still be found anywhere – big or small.
A strong advocate for female empowerment, Leonie Knipe is making a difference. In the male-dominated automotive industry, Leonie’s mission is to establish Avon Valley Toyota as the leading car dealerships for female car-buyers. Leonie takes an inclusive approach in the way she directs the dealerships. She endeavours to hire diversely, source local suppliers and invest in apprentices. Her goal is to foster an innovative workplace that champions equality.