Skip to main content


Rhonda Walker Has Changed the Automotive Industry, Whether She Knows It Or Not

5346801448 D92cd8f580 O

Rhonda Walker is a force. Each day, I get up at 4:30 AM to work out and extend my day, which I thought made me pretty cool. That all changed when Rhonda Walker announced that she gets up at 2:30 AM to get a longer day in. Suddenly, my 4:30 AM wake-up call felt like I was sleeping in. I guess the moral of the story is to stay humble, stay driven, stay focused, and stay true to your mission – and she certainly does.

She has a full-time career as a news anchor, and in her spare time, she has created an important foundation that is impacting generations of women and their families going forward. This weekend, I learned so much about that organization at the Rhonda Walker Foundation Gala – probably one of the most moving events I’ve experienced – where she spoke about celebrating their 20th anniversary of supporting young women and their incredible achievements.

At Perficient, we also pride ourselves on being of service to our communities. So, on a Saturday night, me and three of my teammates from the automotive practice got into our fancy clothes and hosted some of our dear clients. We were all inspired by the important results this organization is driving. It was incredible to see all the empowered young women leaders who have become poets, writers, business leaders, and more thanks to the support of this organization.

This important work the organization is doing does not only touch the women it supports – it creates a ripple effect in its community. When I looked at my colleagues’ faces, I could see how touched they were. As for me, I was thinking about how anything is possible with hard work, dedication, and good people around you that make good things happen.

We were in downtown Detroit on a rainy fall night, but I didn’t mind since we sat in a magical venue at Campus Martius – right in the Motor City. This city has been completely transformed in just the last 20 years. While it is still dominated by the automotive industry, it is clearly not the same automotive industry. Automotive manufacturers are evolving into technology companies and dealing with very different dynamics than just manufacturing vehicles. Today, they are working on the transition to EVs, building battery plants, creating subscriptions, implementing connectivity in vehicles and parts, and even testing autonomous vehicles. These are huge changes that are redefining the industry.

What was most powerful to me, however, is that both the CEOs of GM and Chrysler are women. Mary Barra of General Motors and Christine Feuell of Chrysler are women in an industry that was once dominated by men. These powerful leaders serve as examples of breaking glass ceilings and becoming great role models for young women everywhere. If you have a dream and the support of your community, then anything is possible.

I think the common thread here is service. Being in service to the young women that they are mentoring and impacting generations of families for certain, but also, they spoke of being in service to each other and their teammates. This is extremely important and something that I actively strive to do each day.  A person cannot provide great service to their clients if they are not serving their teammates well.

Rhonda Walker has inspired me on several levels, and now I am going to investigate how I may be able to add value to her foundation. It would be such a great addition to my mission – to be part of the most productive consulting agency in the world. We work to enhance the image, the success, the profitability, and the value of the automotive companies we serve.

It takes a commitment to build something, there are defeats along the way. There are long nights and weekends, and there is, at times, little sleep. But you never give up because the mission is too damn important.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Keith Tomatore

A long-time senior executive in the auto industry who has held the position of SVP, Retail Marketing at Global Team Blue (GTB, a WPP Company) on the Ford Retail Business. In this role, Keith worked with the Ford Dealer Associations across the country to help them with their Precision Marketing and digital efforts. Also, he served as CEO of iFrog Marketing Solutions, which focused on Automotive advertising solutions for Tier 2 and Tier 3.

More from this Author

Follow Us