When people think of the automotive industry, it becomes clear that it is a male-dominated sector. From an early age, boys admire and play with cars because it’s simply what social norms dictate, and as they grow up, that fascination usually stays strong. However, Fiat Chrysler Group has broken away from the stereotype, putting the best person, not ‘man’, in the role of president and CEO. In May this year, the company announced the appointment of Veronica Johns, the first Australian female to head a car company locally.

Veronica started with the Fiat Chrysler Group 15 years ago as personal assistant to the finance director. She then progressed through the company ranks, shifting from marketing, to dealer development, sales management, and finally director of sales before taking the top seat. Coming up in this unofficial ‘boys club’, Veronica looks back on her journey and where she wants to take Fiat Chrysler Group in the future.

In working her way up the Fiat Chrysler corporate structure, Veronica learnt the importance of believing in herself and her ability to get the job done. “Not everyone that I work with knew that I started out as a PA, so when I discussed that with the staff in my first general address, they were actually amazed at how it all happened,” she recalls. “I think it helped a lot of our team realise that they don’t have to come out of university with three degrees and straight into a manager level in order to work their way up.