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Wrenching Women Wednesday with Katie French, featuring Corey Carlson

Each week for Wrenching Women Wednesday, we focus our efforts on shining a light on Women in Automotive and their journey’s in automotive. This week, we would like to introduce Corey Carlson, Account Support Specialist – Bids and Contracts Department at Cummins Inc. (Cummins Sales and Service). Corey is working to receive a Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Tennessee – Martin. She will immediate pursue an MBA after graduation in May 2023.

This is Corey’s story

I started my automotive journey as a kid, I was always interested in learning how things worked and after seeing the Disney Channel original movies, “Right on Track” and “Motocrossed”, as well as being introduced to the absolute goddess herself Jessi Combs on an episode of Xtreme 4X4 back in the early 2000’s, I knew I deserved to be in the industry. I was fortunate to meet Erica Enders at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in 2011. I was absolutely GEEKING out. I went home that day and decided it was time to convince my high school to let me transfer into their Automotive Cluster. During my two years in the program, I was awarded Top Junior Classmen and Top Senior Classmen two years in a row. During my time in the cluster, I was severely bullied, being the only female in my graduating class sucked. I knew I deserved to be there, but the only representation being two girls that were a lot older than me, that did not talk to me at all, I felt alone and out of place.

In my senior year of high school, I went into the industry ready to conquer the world. I immediately landed a job at a transmission company, and even though I originally went in for a teardown position, I was given a sales position instead, so I decided to give it a shot. While I did learn a lot, I also learned I didn’t want to be in the industry if it meant giving up on what I truly wanted, which was to learn more. I didn’t want to be the person that closed deals, I wanted to be the person that solved problems. I was let go from my position and left the industry for years. I kept turning wrenches at home, working on Jeep projects left and right with my boyfriend, turned husband. I was reminded that just because you have one bad experience working doesn’t mean you give up your dreams of working in the industry.

In 2018, I decided to take a leap of faith and move my husband and I 1,300 miles away from everything we’ve ever known because I accepted a parts department job with Cummins Sales and Service in Dedham, MA. I had a manager that took me under his wing and taught me more in my one year in that role than I learned in years in being in the field, and for that I am forever grateful. In 2019, that role ended, and I moved into the Legacy Northeast Bids Department working remotely onto a team of at the time just two people for the territory.

I know what you’re thinking, what is a Bid? For government entities like school districts and transit agencies, they must put out a bidding document to allow agencies to bid on work. For example, if a transit in a state wants to buy parts to work on their buses, they must put out a contract to allow multiple people to bid on the work before buying the parts. The team I work on finds those bids, works cross functionally with sales/op’s/legal/insurance/etc. departments to fulfill the bid and submits them to the customer.

The department was created a year prior, however my manager at the time talked his management into hiring a new person to help expand the business. Due to 2019’s success in late 2020 we moved from Legacy Northeast to all North America (the US and Canada). Since my tenure I’ve assisted in the generation of 800M in revenue, and the team has grown by six. I am very thankful to have been provided the opportunity to help implement and create new processes to help generate revenue and make the process easier. Our team has worked on over 2,200 bidding opportunities across North America and Canada in my tenure with the team and we continue to find and complete more opportunities regularly.

Being in the industry for as long as I have, I’ve come across a lot of sexism. A lot of “you don’t deserve to be here” and “oh you must be the girl that brings us the coffee”. I am incredibly thankful to finally be at a corporation that I have not personally seen any form of discrimination at and have had the opportunity to speak with multiple women in high leadership roles. I’ve recently started learning how to tig weld for fun, and now that I bought a home, I’m looking forward to picking up a project vehicle after I graduate college and start working building toys again.

If you’re turning wrenches, or you’re working on federal contracts you’re still a valid member of the Automotive Industry. The industry is ever-changing, and it’s something I personally love is we will always continue to learn and to grow. New technology will come out, new sides of the field will be created with it, whether it’s Diesel, Natural Gas, or New Power the industry will continue to evolve. If I could look back at 15-year-old Corey that was crying in the girl’s locker room in the auto department because the boys wouldn’t let her work on the oil change, I think she’d be incredibly proud.

In my closing statement I just want you to remember, if you ever feel alone in this industry remember you always have a place here. You are valid, and you will empower the next generation of females as long as you keep persevering.”


About Katie French

Katie French is an Automotive Repair Expert at RepairPal. Her love for the automotive industry began at a young age learning how to fix bicycles and driving around the neighborhood in a pink Power Wheels Jeep. To pursue a career in the field, Katie attended NEIT for Advanced Automotive Technology out in East Greenwich, RI. Since graduating from the automotive program, Katie has worn many hats in the auto industry over the years, and has treated every day as a school day. She currently is working toward a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Management with a concentration in Fleet Management from Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, MO. In her free time, Katie enjoys empowering women in skilled trades, Jeep builds, and spending time with her family.

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