Women at the Wheel: Dee Sjarif
Written by Russell Purcell (Driving.ca - July 31, 2015).
Part-time job during college led to full-time job at one of Canada's most exciting dealerships.
The Porsche Centre Langley is one of the newest dealerships in the OpenRoad Auto Group’s expanding empire. Edmonton native Dee Sjarif is the acting business manager of this stunning new facility and is very excited to be involved with such a prestigious brand.
While attending college in pursuit of an accounting degree, Sjarif got a part-time job at a Toyota dealership in Edmonton.
“I accepted a position as a receptionist, but shortly afterwards I was moved up to the accounting department due to my growing knowledge base in that area.”
“Interestingly, I also got my younger sister a job at the same dealership,” said Sjarif, “and she is still involved in the automotive industry today.”
Both women developed an interest in what was happening in the business office, as every single deal goes to the business manager and it seemed to be the place where the customers were most happy.
“When the role of the business office was explained to us we realized that its operation played a really important role in the success of the dealership,” said the young professional after a moment of reflection.
“It was evident that the goal of the business manager was to ensure that the customer was getting the best deal for their individual needs or current financial situation, so as an accountant, I found that very appealing.”
The ambitious young woman eventually left the dealership to focus all of her attention on her education. “While I went off and finished my accounting course work, my sister continued at the dealership and ended up working in the business office. She has since moved to a Chrysler dealership in the Edmonton area where she is the business manager, and is having great success. Like myself, she loves the job!”
Tired of the prospect of facing another long, cold Alberta winter, Sjarif and her husband decided to pack up their belongings and re-establish themselves in the Vancouver area.
“After moving to Vancouver I got a job at a law firm as an accounting supervisor,” said Sjarif, from the comfort of her leather perch in the dealership’s boardroom. “However, not long into my time there the firm was acquired by a larger one from Toronto, and they chose to move all the accounting jobs to their home office. At that time, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity for me to make a career change, and I still thought that I wanted to try my hand as a business manager somewhere.”
Sjarif did some research and in short order, enrolled in a one-week course training her in the operation of a business office, and on completion she would have the opportunity to do relief work in the field.
“I feel very fortunate, as I managed to find a full-time position at a Nissan dealership a month-and-a-half after completing the course,” said Sjarif, 35. “I only worked there for just over a year, but I found it very fulfilling and gained a lot of valuable experience. I loved working at the Nissan dealership, but I always knew that that position was only a stopping point, as my career goal was always to get into luxury retail.”
A mutual friend introduced her to OpenRoad’s Aly Jiwani, general manager of both Langley BMW and Porsche Centre Langley, who noted there was an opportunity in the new Porsche store’s business office.
Sjarif was confident in her abilities and knew that she was more than up to the challenge of helping set up the new business office, so the driven young executive-to-be accepted the position and has been exceeding expectations ever since.
Sjarif is open to the idea of starting a family one day, but for now she is more than happy to nurture her career.
“I must admit that I kind of see the dealership as my baby, as I was so involved in its development as it opened. I was able to establish many of the standards, policies and procedures that now make up the framework for my job, which has made it a very comfortable place for me to work. And I get to interact with such great people.”
“In fact, I am enjoying myself so much in this new environment that I hope to spend my entire career with the OpenRoad Auto Group. And that says a lot about the kind of company they have become, and I am really proud to be a part of their organization.”
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