Carolyn Olavarria is a first generation Latin American, and the first in her family to graduate from college. Her immigrant parents had little money but a great hopes for their family and future when they arrived in the United States in the mid 70’s.
In her late 20’s, Carolyn was introduced to the auto industry by an acquaintance and fell in love with her job as a salesperson. She quickly climbed up the ranks becoming Finance Manager, then Sales Manager in New York.
She made the decision to move away from family and friends to come to Los Angeles with her boss and a select few to relaunch a dealership that had been bankrupted by previous owners. Out of about 1,110 dealerships in the country, this dealership was at the bottom. Her boss served as a mentor, sharing with her a vision and plans to cultivate the dealership and build something outstanding. Honda of Downtown Los Angeles is now one of the largest Honda dealerships in the country, and Carolyn is General Manager. She is the first female Latin American General Manager for Honda.
Carolyn and her team are looking forward to the new multi-million dollar facility that will host the new dealership. It will be in an up-and-coming area near the Los Angeles Football Club and LA Memorial Coliseum. One of her key goals is to help revitalize the neighborhood by providing a positive presence in the community. She is dedicated to continue promoting from within, providing opportunities and cultivating her employees’ talents. Honda has promoted porters to salespeople, call center representatives to advisors, and salespeople to managers and it’s extremely important to Carolyn to continue and expand on that policy.
As a woman in a male dominated industry, her most difficult challenge has been being taken seriously and sometimes being misunderstood. Carolyn is passionate and assertive and she’s had to develop her own personal strength and resiliency. Her advice to young women just starting their careers is, “Do not let fear limit you – fear can be the biggest motivator and you can learn a lot from it if you push through it. Always trust your gut and never take no for an answer.” She’s determined to use her position as General Manager to bring more women into the industry and to mentor them to succeed as she has.
Carolyn’s parents taught her discipline and a strong work ethic, and her whole family has worked together to help each other in many ways. Wonderful and talented individuals have surrounded her in her life. They’ve made her realize that she could do more and dream bigger than she ever envisioned for herself.