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AutoNation CEO’s Leadership Advice For Women: Think Possibilities

September 24, 2019, 1:59 PM UTC

There are now 36 women CEOs running Fortune 500 companies. Cheryl Miller, who became CEO of AutoNation in July, is one of the latest to join this elite group.

Miller got behind the wheel of AutoNation, after a surprising management shakeup at the world’s largest auto dealership. In February, the company announced that Carl Liebert, the chief operating officer at insurance giant USAA, would become the new CEO replacing the legendary Mike Jackson who ran the company for more than 20 years. But four months later, the board switched gears, saying Liebert was “not a good fit”, and installed Miller in the driver’s seat. Miller had been AutoNation’s chief financial officer since 2014.

AutoNation shares surged 15 percent on the news. That same day, Miller got a standing ovation at a town hall for employees, including her mentor, Mike Jackson.

“ It felt very good that validation that you saw in the stock price,” she says, “but also with our associate team as well.”

She is now the first female CEO of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida auto retailer. With 2018 revenues of more than $21 billion, AutoNation is ranked on the Fortune 500 list of the biggest companies in America.

So what does Miller think it takes for young women to rise up to top leadership positions in business?

“Make sure you’re listening and learning. Make sure you’re working hard,” Miller says. “And don’t be afraid. So if an opportunity presents itself, don’t be afraid to take it. Always be thinking about possibilities, not limitations, but possibilities.”

Watch the video above for more from my interview with Miller.

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that Miller is not the most recent woman to become a Fortune 500 CEO.