Women at the Wheel: Natalie Ye
Former teacher in China reinvents herself in her new homeland.
Written by Russell Purcell (Drivers.ca - July 31, 2015)
VANCOUVER — Natalie Ye had no interest in automobiles before moving to Canada in 2008.
In her hometown of Shanghai she’d embarked on a career as a high school teacher and was enjoying the challenge when her husband expressed a desire to emigrate to Canada.
“I was both nervous and excited about the move as it represented such a big change to our lives,” the now 38-year old said of the move. “But we were going to have an adventure and I have always liked a challenge.”
Unfortunately, she would need to upgrade her training if she wanted to be a teacher in Canada, so she considered some alternatives.
“It turned out that there are a lot of differences between the Chinese and Canadian education systems, and after some research I determined that if I wanted to get back in the classroom I would have to go back to school myself,” she explained. “As I was not that young, I really didn’t like the idea of being back in university at this point of my life, and especially not for a period of four or five years.”
Initially, Ye found work as a tutor for a company that provided training for executives from foreign investment firms who wanted to learn how to speak the Mandarin language.
“I enjoy teaching people, but that job didn’t intrigue me very much so I began to examine what options were available for me here in Vancouver.”
She knew that she was going to have to make a career change but was unsure what she wanted to do with her life. She decided to look for an administrative position as they seemed to be relatively abundant and would allow her to see what a company or business was all about before determining whether or not she had enough of an interest in the field to move forward and make it a career.
It turned out the automotive industry suited her, and today Ye is the dealership administrator for the three stores run by OpenRoad in the Langley area: Langley BMW, Langley Mini, and Porsche Centre Langley.
“As a dealer administrator I have a variety of responsibilities due to the fact that our parent company, the OpenRoad Auto Group, has been structured in a way that is most efficient with regards to staffing,” she explained. “What this means is we have no need for departments such as human resources, accounting, or business administration at each dealership, as these functions are handled from a central corporate office.
Instead, the company has individuals like Ye who act almost like ambassadors for these departments at the store level.
“Basically, I am an efficiency expert who is there to support the needs of the other staff at the dealership. I provide support to sales and handle payroll and human resource issues that may pop up. I enjoy the work very much as there is lots of variety and it keeps me really busy, and I like to be busy.”
Ye began her association with OpenRoad after landing an entry level administrative position as a receptionist at North Shore Acura.
“I worked at that dealership for three years and learned a lot, but when I received an offer from general manager Ali Jiwani to transfer to Langley and take on a bigger role at his three dealerships, I had to jump at the chance as we had worked so well together in the past.”
“It is much easier to do the job when you and the boss communicate so well and have a thorough understanding as to how each other operates.
“I have this with Ali and I think he recognized that our working relationship enhanced the business.”
Early on in her association with OpenRoad, Ye was quick to recognize how unique the company is as a business entity and what a special opportunity it represented to her. Under the direction of company president and CEO Christian Chia, the company strives to promote from within.
OpenRoad provides its employees with opportunities to advance and a variety of training and development programs are in place to facilitate this. For someone like Ye, who was faced with having to re-establish herself almost from square one, the reality is she couldn’t have landed in a better place.
“I am very thankful to be where I am, considering that I moved to a new country and had to change careers,” said Ye with a wide smile.
“I almost feel like the job picked me, rather than I picked this job, and I couldn’t be happier than I am now.”
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