Women Driven Spotlight: Carolynn Kozlov

Throughout her career in the automotive industry, Carolynn Kozlov has never shied away from a challenge. When she first entered the car business, she applied for a general manager’s job at a dealership in Sydney, Australia, despite having no retail car experience.

Although Kozlov didn’t get the general manager’s job, she was hired as a salesperson, and she sold a car on her first day on the job.

“I had already worked in sales at a marketing company, so selling came naturally to me,” says Kozlov, Senior Regional Manager at Sym-Tech Dealer Services and one of five recipients of the 2023 Women Driven Leadership Awards. “Selling cars gave me a great introduction to the car industry and how it worked.”

When Kozlov returned to Canada in 2008, she continued working in automotive, as a sales consultant, leasing manager, and financial services manager, in predominately male-dominated environments, at various dealerships across Ontario.

In 2013, Kozlov joined Sym-Tech (a leading Canadian F&I provider to the retail automotive industry) as an F&I specialist and was soon appointed to District Manager. Other promotions followed, including to Regional Manager and to Senior Regional Manager.

Since 2020, Kozlov has been a Senior Regional Manager, and her responsibilities include managing a sales team of five, performance development through training, reviewing monthly and quarterly Dealer F&I sales targets, and assisting with overall sales performance in the GTA through leadership, management, account development and new account acquisition.

“Sym-Tech is a very inclusive company that offers men and women equal opportunities to succeed,” says Kozlov. “Our president, Derek Sloan, is very proactive in promoting and supporting women at all levels of the company. Currently, over fifty per cent of our managers are women, whereas ten years ago that figure was only fifteen to twenty per cent.”

During her sixteen-year career in automotive, Kozlov has witnessed a concerted effort on the part of dealers, OEMS and suppliers to achieve greater gender parity. “Today, more women are working in all areas of the auto industry than fifteen years ago,” she says. “More opportunities exist for women than ever before, in sales and sales management, in service, as automotive technicians, in human resources and digital marketing, and as dealer principals.”

When Kozlov learned that she’d been nominated for a Women Driven Leadership Award, she was surprised and humbled. “To be nominated for this Award by one of my peers was an incredible honour,” says Kozlov. “And to win this award was also a great honour.”

The Women Driven Leadership Award is presented to individuals who demonstrate a strong commitment to the Women Driven Mission statement: amplifying women to thrive within automotive careers while cultivating a community of inspiration, innovation, inclusiveness and equity.

Although Kozlov hasn’t had been involved in any formal mentorship programs, she has worked with colleagues who have supported, encouraged and advised her at different stages in her career. 

“I try to lead by example and to inspire the people I work with to succeed in their chosen professions,” says Kozlov. “The automotive industry is an equal opportunity industry, where hard work and dedication are rewarded, whether you’re a man or a woman.”

Kozlov currently has one mentee, and many of her women colleagues will approach her for career advice and to share thoughts and ideas. “I have a passion for the training aspect of my job,” she says. “Being in a position to provide guidance and support, especially for younger people, is extremely gratifying.”

 The Motor Vehicle Retailers of Ontario has a proud tradition of supporting automotive education and training. In recent years, the MVRO has supported the Women Driven initiative, as a means of promoting women and raising awareness of women who have excelled in the automotive industry.

 “The Women Driven live networking events, the magazine and the Leadership Awards have become influential in recognizing the achievement of women in our industry, and letting the public know about the varied career opportunities that are available to women. With Women Driven, women get to see firsthand the changes that are occurring within this robust industry. I applaud the MVRO for promoting and supporting this worthwhile initiative.”

 When Kozlov isn’t working, she juggles (with her partner) being a mom to three young children. She also enjoys doing volunteer work in her community, travelling, playing pickleball and keeping fit. 

 “It’s incredible how far the automotive industry has evolved since I began working in it in 2007,” says Kozlov. “For women entering the business today, whatever their backgrounds or education, the opportunities are limitless, and the sky is the limit.”

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