For many people, growing their career means having to jump from company to company. But Shaferia Harris has found numerous opportunities to flex and evolve her skills since joining Cox Automotive in 2008.
She has worked in five different roles — each within different Cox Automotive departments, programs and brands — over the past 12 years and learned many facets of the automotive industry. And Shaferia is still adding to her knowledge base every day, both on the job and through company-supported continuing education programs.
“Cox Automotive truly invests in us,” said Shaferia. “They really believe in their employees, and there’s no better example than me.”
Room to Grow
Shaferia started out as a curious student of the automotive industry. In Dealer Services, she proactively searched for ways to benefit dealer clients and make herself indispensable to internal sales partners. She was so dedicated to learning, growing and expanding her skill set that she quickly gained the attention of others outside of her department.
Shaferia was asked to participate in an innovative employee swap program for 90 days in the credit and collections department. There she saw an opportunity and seized it.
“The role was about so much more than collecting payments and settling accounts,” she said, “I felt I could have an impact by listening, empathizing and looking for solutions.”
Change in Direction
Following the 90-day department swap, Shaferia decided to stay in the credit and collections department. A year later, she had the lowest outstanding delinquent accounts receivables in the company nationwide. Colleagues started to take notice. Soon she was sharing her personal approach, which focused on being a consultant first and collecting outstanding payments second.
Shaferia explained, “My work was about building trust and nurturing relations. While it was important to retrieve money, my goal was to retain the client.”
Her outstanding performance opened the door to another internal opportunity in a pilot program called Service Plus. The sales team encouraged her to seize the opportunity based on her proven record of customer engagement and past success in credit and collections. They knew she’d be a great fit — and she was.
During her time at Service Plus, Shaferia became the eyes and ears for her sales team in the field. She took deep dives into report analysis, observed trends and figured out which dealers were having issues.
Evolution of Service
After working with the Service Plus team, Shaferia went on to join the then-new Cox Automotive company, MakeMyDeal. This digital retailing platform enabled car shoppers and dealers to discuss and agree on the terms of an automobile transaction online. There she helped train dealers to interact with consumers using this online platform, while maximizing their profitability.
Her time with MakeMyDeal made her an ideal team member at another Cox Automotive brand, Dealer.com, which provides website and advertising solutions for dealerships and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). From there, Shaferia found her current role as Senior Digital Retailing Specialist on Cox Automotive’s Digital Retailing team, which services some of the largest dealerships in the country. She’s become an expert on the evolution of digital retailing having experienced it up close and personal during her tenure.
After 11 years, Shaferia remains fulfilled working at Cox Automotive, where team members have a voice and opportunity to improve their professional and personal lives. She described her career path as always having an overarching goal, “My moves have always been about understanding the holistic picture of automotive.”
Shareria continues to grow and develop her career at Cox Automotive. She cites long-time internal mentors, an open-door policy without fear of retaliation, and above all, a company that puts its money where its mouth is. Cox Automotive funded her Six Sigma Green Belt certification and will reimburse her tuition as she completes her MBA at Mercer University this year. She says Cox Automotive is focused on people, values and purpose, instead of just making money.
“It’s a really unique culture to care so deeply about your clients, your co-workers and your community, and see the blossoming results of that investment,” she said.
Shaferia also points out Cox Automotive’s year-round commitment to community relations. Team members are encouraged to nurture relationships with nonprofit organizations for the causes that matter most to them.
“I love Cox,” said Shaferia, “I love it because of the culture. I love coming to work every day knowing I’m making a difference and that my company cares about me, our clients, our community and our world.”