Cristina Cheever Director, Automotive Relationships for Robb Report Magazine, prior to working with Robb Report, she launched Starring You, a versatile marketing & communications company based in Orange County CA that works with some of the leading brands on the market.
Cristina has vast experience in the luxury automotive sector. She was the VP of Marketing & PR for Fisker Coachbuild and launched the premium plug in hybrid sports car company Fisker Automotive. Prior to this, she was head of Marketing & PR in North America for Aston Martin, after working on the PR team for Jaguar on the east coast. She hails from Brooklyn, New York and holds degrees in International Business and Finance.
HerHighway’s Editor in Chief Christina Selter sat down with Cristina in Southern California for a one on one interview regarding how the automotive industry has opportunities for women and why it is so important for women to seek a career in automotive. The video is coming soon, but for now enjoy some amazing Q&A.
Who have you mentored, or/and did someone mentor you in this industry to help you get started?
I was mentored by one of my bosses at Jaguar in the PR department. She had time for me..she listened and she cared about me and my future – it meant the world to me. I have mentored a few people that have worked for me in the auto industry and I must say it feels great to return the favor. Its usually with women that are just starting out in the auto business, but then the relationship sticks and grows over time. I continuously try and mentor them as they need me.
As a woman what features are your favorites in a car?
There are many that are important to me. They range from having enough horsepower to get me out of a jam or into a thrill to heated everything when I have the convertible top down. I do love the purr of a V8 and growl of a V12! Having said that, with two little ones I also enjoy the ease of access to the back seat of an SUV as its a lot of work with car seats and all. A smooth ride is also important to me as I am in the car a lot. Telematics play a crucial role in my life too so the NAV system, mobile devices, bluetooth and roadside assistance need to be absolute perfection.
Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for females?
Its difficult because it feels like a mans world…car shows are the worst for females as your always asked by men, “Do you know anything about this car?” I know how I would have liked to answer, but didn’t. It has changed quite a bit over the past 10-15 years and doesn’t feel as tough to get on top. When I became a VP for Fisker in 2005 I knew things were getting better.
Why did you want to work in the auto industry?
At first I really didn’t know that I wanted to work in the auto industry. I used to watch my older brother in the backyard as he would dismantle his cars over and over again. I didn’t get it then, but I get it now…they are beautiful pieces of art and machinery and require lots of attention. I started as an Intern at Jaguar, in the Finance department and I started to feel the buzz and ‘green blood’ around me. Once I saw the passion of some of the people that worked at Jaguar..and once I drove a Jaguar I couldn’t resist..something inside me ignited and I couldn’t turn it off! From there I just developed a love for the auto industry..which is still growing.
First automotive job?
My first automotive job was as an intern with Jaguar in the Finance department. Working with the ‘numbers only’ wasn’t quite exciting enough so I took a job in the UK with Jaguar to launch the first new sports car that Jaguar had launched in 21 years – the new Jaguar XK8! It was an awesome experience and this is where I stepped into the world of automotive PR. This is the first time I really understood what it meant to bring a new car to market (from start to finish) and how important the first impressions of the media were to a brand. Also, this is where I was thankful for my Finance degree and for my time within the Finance department at Jaguar USA – it served as the back bone to product launch deliverables.
Proudest professional achievement?
My proudest achievement was when I was heading up Marketing & PR for Aston Martin in North America and I was able to generate the buzz and excitement that the brand deserved through a series of Road Shows that I designed and created: Power, Beauty and Soul Tour and the Driven to the Nines Tour. Both were very successful in terms of reaching our sales targets and media impressions!
Current challenge at work?
My current challenge is that I work with so many great automotive brands that I can’t devote 100% to just one brand and their overall marketing and communications strategy. I feel that I can only be a part of bits and pieces. Its also tough waiting for answers as everything always seems to be a moving target.
My dream job..for where I am in my life today..its with Robb Report as their Director, Automotive Relationships. I get to work with all of the fantastic auto brands and meet so many amazing Robb Report readers and Club Members. I get to be part of some of the most amazing experiences out there including the esteemed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the coveted Robb Report Car of the Year event!
What sports or activities did you enjoy in school or/and currently?
I was a dancer in high school and college and enjoyed it quite a bit. I became a coach for high school girls once I graduated from college as well. It was great, energetic and kept me fit as I did the work outs and routines with the girls. Today I love my pilate workouts and long walks on the beach. My favorite sport today – keeping the family busy and active! And any working mom would agree, it is a sport with lots to manage! I LOVE being with the family and enjoying all the sweet (and some sour) moments!!
What you do to relax?
I really enjoy heading to the spa or the beach. Those are my go to places when I need a tension release or a recharge. We all need to relax…its important to be able to give everywhere else in life and so, I need to be able to give to myself every now and again. But the best relaxer ever, is being around the table with my big Italian family enjoying an amazing meal, great conversation and delicious wine.