Businesswoman aims to empower females
Lisa Copeland, general manager of Fiat of Austin, did not have a mentor growing up to show her the ropes or how to be a leader to other women. Seeing a need in the Austin area for businesswomen to step up and mentor younger women and girls—especially in the automobile industry—Copeland is starting the conversation with the Girl Scouts of Central Texas to create an environment where young women can find mentors. She has also recognized the importance of businesses interacting with the community, and Fiat of Austin allows many nonprofit organizations to host fundraisers at the dealership.
Copeland started working with the Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships about 24 years ago. After taking a break from the car industry, she came back. In February 2011, she helped open Fiat of Austin, which is the No. 1 Fiat dealership in North America. In the coming months, she will oversee its relocation to a larger facility on Research Boulevard.
What work have you done to empower women employees and consumers in the car business?
Five years ago, I started a consulting company on how to help auto dealers better sell to women. I was consulting with a lot of car dealerships and teaching them how to break into the women's market, whether it was hiring, training and retaining women salespeople and employees or how to how to authentically capture the women's market and want women to do business with them. Nyle [Maxwell] was a client and then he offered me to come back to work for him. I [also] have a blog that I write. It's just information to help women make good decisions. It's called BuyingCarsHerWay.com. It's just a passion of mine to empower women to go buy cars.
How are you involved in the community?
I'm pretty obsessed with Girl Scouts. I was a Woman of Distinction last year, and after winning that award, I have now started working with Central Texas Girl Scouts. My goal is to set up a leadership mentoring program that I would spearhead. I'm really passionate about that. I think these girls need women who are in business who are role models. They loved it, and we're going to expand on it.
What else could people do in Austin to provide more leaders and mentors for young girls?
The one thing I know about women is that we're moms typically, so we want to help these young people. We could pull them together. I don't know where there's a program where women business leaders have come together and said, 'We're available.' That's why I chose Girl Scouts because I do think these girls are already motivated. They already want to be something above and beyond what they already are. I don't know what [the program] looks like yet, but the conversation has started.
Why is it important for businesses to get involved with the community?
I do think [hosting fundraisers] puts us in the community, and people get to know us at a different level. They get to see what we're passionate about. We want to live in a first-class city, we want to have a first-class business and we want first-class customers, [but] that doesn't come free. We need to be good stewards.