“I’m a car enthusiast,” says Sonia Narain Kallan, Business Manager at Audi South Africa. “Growing up, my brother and I were always avid motorsport followers – thanks to our dad’s love of cars.”
That passion has led her to her current role, where she works with Audi’s retail partners to improve Dealer profitability and performance by analysing financials, consulting with the Dealer management and developing action plans to progress the Dealer Network’s overall business.
When the opportunity arose to join the Audi brand in 2014, as a graduate trainee, Sonia felt it was a perfect fit.
“I am a chartered management accountant, and was thrilled to join an industry that allowed me firstly, to work with products that are aspirational to so many, and secondly, to use my financial training to do more than just the typical number-crunching,” says Sonia.
“I have been in operational roles, where I observed the intricacies of the business from a Dealer point of view, as well as in positions where I could learn about the complexities from a manufacturing perspective,” she says.
“What’s great about Audi is that you don’t need to specialise in one area,” says Sonia. “You can gain a breadth of knowledge across various departments while working for one brand.”
“This industry thrills us with new products, challenges us with new customer preferences, and stimulates us with new ways of doing things all the time,” she says. “Adapting to the challenges of fast-paced advancements in technology is especially exciting to me.”
Sonia says she looks forward to the imminent arrival of the electric vehicles such as the Audi e-tron, and to see how this transforms mobility. “The cars we are bringing to market are better looking, more polished, and sportier than ever before, and being part of that is an added perk,” she says.
Sonia finds it exciting to be a woman in a previously male-dominated industry. “It’s something that I am proud of,” she says.
She recommends that young women entering the motor industry to be open minded and assertive.
“Don’t take your personal brand for granted,” says Sonia. “Everything you have learnt forms part of your professional arsenal, and you should never shy away from showing off your competence and abilities. My advice would be to always say ‘yes’ to learning something new.”
“If you are a little anxious about a challenge, it is probably what you need most in order to grow,” she says. “The more you know, the more you want to know. Every bit of knowledge you gain will develop you, and equip you to build a stronger career.”