AutoConnex Connecting you to the automotive aftermarket

May 10, 2019 / Career Spotlight

Zineb Ahnou Ghouila


Job title and employer

Manager, National Business Solutions for Uni-Select Canada

What does your job title mean?

I am in charge of the communication and marketing strategy for our mechanical shops and wholesaler network programs.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Algiers, in Algeria (North Africa). I lived and studied there for the first 28 years of my life, before coming to Canada.

Where do you live now?

Boucherville, Quebec, Canada

Where did you complete your training or education?                          

I hold a marketing bachelor’s degree from HEC Alger, in Algeria.

When I was in high school, I enjoyed…

  • Music
  • Foreign languages
  • Literature and French language arts

When I was in high school, I was someone who…

  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Liked reading
  • Didn’t really care about grades
  • Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do
  • Other:  I was very introverted when I was young and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do

Describe what you do at work.

I work on various projects. I often conduct market analyses to evaluate territories that have sales development potential and I look at the statistics and economic trends as well as at the development of each zone. These data enable us to evaluate various communication strategies targeting customers and prospects and promoting what we offer.

Communication is key:  knowing how to identify the good channels, develop relevant messages and, above all, invest strategically to get a good return on investment. Today’s media are increasingly diversified. In addition to traditional media such as television, radio, billboards and posters, there has been an emergence of digital media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It is now crucial to have a modern website that is up-to-date with the latest technological standards in order to reach and influence customers’ behaviours.

In the context of my work, I don’t use specialized equipment but I do use several software programs and platforms that enable me to carry out my job.

I work with multidisciplinary teams, such as the sales team, the product development team, the finance department and even the legal department.

Although I work in marketing/communication, there is a lot of math. This will surprise you, but in high school, I hated math and I would never have believed that one day, I would love “playing” with numbers. When you have to develop a campaign to promote a product or a service, you have to make sure you have the right product mix, which means a product that meets your customers’ expectations. To be able to do that, quantitative and qualitative studies must be done, you have to have a good price positioning and to distribute the product through the right sales channels. Then, the product has to be promoted and generate sales, and be profitable, so you have to make sure that your development expenses generate profits.

Today, many mathematical indicators can be used in marketing, the ROI (return on investment), the acquisition cost for a customer, website traffic, the engagement rate on social media (Facebook, for instance), conversion rates, etc. It may seem complicated… but I can guarantee you that it isn’t at all; on the contrary, it’s really the magic of math in the service of marketing.

How does your job affect peoples lives?             

My work is very fulfilling; it’s a source of happiness for me when we develop strategies that lead to our success. When customers are satisfied, grateful and loyal to our programs, it’s very satisfying.

Teamwork is vital to what I do; it’s what I call a virtuous circle. If I develop good communication and loyalty strategies, I will generate and spark interest for our products/services, and that will enable me to convert prospects into customers and therefore boost sales, and so on.

What motivates you in your career?     

I’ve been working in marketing for a little over 15 years, including the last five years in the automotive aftermarket sector. In fact, I am very proud to be working in this industry, given that I grew up in this field, as my father owned a garage for more than 25 years.

What I appreciate most is the fact that I’m always learning something, whether in the marketing field (brand building, web and social media trends, data marketing, etc.) or in the automotive industry (development of new technologies and their impacts on the aftermarket, the realities of a mechanical shop owner, etc.).

I also enjoy being constantly in contact with people who lift me higher and challenge me in my thinking, whether they are my colleagues, customers or business partners. In addition, working on projects with multidisciplinary teams help me to see other business aspects and to continuously strive to challenge myself.

How did you get to where you are today?       

I didn’t think that I would work in the automotive industry one day, but I grew up in it because my father owned a garage and I played in it a lot when I was young. 😊

When I was in high school, I wasn’t particularly interested in anything, I was even something of an introvert, which I am not at all today. I was trying to find myself and I didn’t really know what my future would look like, but this will surprise you:  I listened to my father’s advice! He was the one who told me to determine what were the best study programs that offered real career opportunities, to think a little outside the box and to choose something different from the other members of my family. So, when I graduated from high school, I decided to go to a business school and that’s where I really realized what I wanted to do and that I didn’t want to do anything else. So I studied business for two years and took a wide range of courses: math, statistics, micro- and macro-economy, international negotiation courses; then I specialized for two years in marketing, taking courses in marketing, communication, statistics, etc.

I completed two internships. The first one was the most boring thing I’ve done in my life, in a pharmaceutical company, where I spent my days in an office doing word processing… Then, I had a second internship that was a real revelation. I carried out a quantitative and qualitative study on the impacts of a brand name change on consumer behaviour. So I developed a questionnaire that I administered to more than 250 people and I was able to identify some trends and to make recommendations to the company. Thanks to that internship, I was able to land my first job in that same company as an assistant product manager.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?                           

I enjoy eating and shopping. No, seriously, I spend a lot of time with my children and my husband.

I am a member of the financing committee of the Fondation Ressources-Jeunesse, which helps job searchers integrate the labour market.

I enjoy biking and walking, and I try to go to the gym at least once a week.

What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?

It’s normal to hesitate, it’s normal to not know what you want to do, in which field you want to work or even study in. Do not hesitate to ask questions, to talk to professionals and to ask for advice.

You have to be persistent and trust yourself. That’s what will allow you to move forward.

Also, wherever you come from, whatever the colour of your skin or your gender, you should never hesitate to take up new challenges.

 

Let’s Talk Science is proud to partner with the Automotive Industries Association of Canada to help shed light on the many interesting STEM related careers available in the automotive aftermarket industry. Let’s Talk Science is a national charitable organization focused on engaging youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and outreach to support youth development.