Julie Smalstig Marketing Director Cooper Tire>

Julie Smalstig is Marketing Director, Cooper Tire North America division, overseeing brand and channel initiatives for Cooper Tire and Mastercraft brands. Julie has more than 15 years of marketing experience across brand development and consumer marketing functions. Prior to joining Cooper Tire, Julie led a cross-channel, 26,000-store consumer loyalty program at Valvoline, establishing the brand as the largest in the U.S. motor oil category while increasing retail store sales 7 percent.

Who have you mentored or did someone mentor you in this industry to help you get started?
The best mentor was found through many people, as no one person can provide the ideal model to emulate. With this mentoring philosophy in mind, when meeting senior executives that impressed me throughout my career, I asked them for a meeting to learn from them. Because it is a short commitment vs. long-term mentoring responsibilities, I was never turned down. I asked how they managed their staff, how they got to the level they were at in their career and what advice they had for me. Every interview was eye-opening. I listened a lot (God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason, one respected leader once told me!). As a result, I held onto advice from each person that made the difference in my leadership and career advancement.

As a woman what features are your favorites in a car? 
A smooth, comfortable ride and family-friendly – easy to transport the kids (9 year old girl and 7 year old boy) and to access items I need wherever my road trip takes me.

Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for females? 
It historically has lacked diversity – Females bring different, brand new perspectives to the category that are good, but often different than the traditional way of thinking and doing things in the category. Many men in the industry welcome these new insights and are paving the way for more women to grow as leaders in automotive.

Why did you want to work in the auto industry? 
I love the people in the industry – hard-working, straight-forward and compassionate, caring individuals. I have also worked in retail marketing for more than 10 years and enjoy connecting customers with consumers to help their lives.

First automotive job? 
Senior Brand Manager at Valvoline

Proudest professional achievement? 
Diversity & Inclusion Global Council Board Member at Ashland, Inc. (parent company of Valvoline) – The council’s mission was to increase diversity and the inclusion of it in the workplace. Ashland, Inc. recognized a gap that was limiting their performance potential, and I was thankful to be selected to drive education and change management within the organization.

Current challenge at work?  
Busy busy busy!  ‘We are burning daylight’ is a regular expression. Cooper Tire just launched a new brand message with the phrase “Life’s A Roadtrip. Come On, Let’s Go.” It is a refreshing brand message to consumers because it’s framed in their own words. Cooper Tire held extensive dialogue with consumers for 18 months and those views are now reflected in our brand, providing clear benefits for their every day driving needs. It truly is not about what your tires can do – it is about what you can do on your Cooper Tires. This messaging extends to the company’s new website – check it out at CooperTire.com. Additionally, Cooper Tire introduced more new products in 2011 than in any other year in the company’s history, gaining award-winning recognition through the new product websites CooperDiscoverer and CooperZeon.

Dream job? 
Own a bookstore – I spent my summers off from school reading every chance I could and worked at a bookstore – We must never stop learning or exploring.

What you do to relax? 
Girl things – spa, walks, watching A&E