ATLANTA — Cox Automotive awarded its Breakthrough Leader of the Year Award to Nicole Cockcroft, services and parts manager with Headquarter Mazda, part of Clermont, Fla.-based Headquarter Automotive. This honor recognizes women leaders who were inspired to transition to the automotive industry from another industry and made an immediate impact in the day-to-day business.

Cockcroft accepted the award at a ceremony during the Women in Automotive Conference in Orlando. She was selected from the top female nominees across the country who met the criteria of having five years or less of automotive experience and making significant inroads and measurable contributions to help advance her dealerships’ business.

“Year after year, we find that diversity continues to be a catalyst for company growth and innovation,” said Nicole Ashe, Cox’s senior vice president of talent, diversity, and culture. “Cox Automotive is pleased to recognize Nicole as a premiere example of how a customer-centric background and can-do attitude can generate change not only for a dealership and the local community, but for the entire automotive industry.”

Prior to joining the Headquarter Automotive family in 2014, Cockcroft worked as an administrative assistant, owner of a waterslide and moonwalk rental business, a medical transcriptionist, and a server/bartender. At Headquarter Honda, Cockcroft began as a service advisor, where her customer service skills shined and helped her climb up the ladder. Soon after, Cockcroft became the parts and service manager for Headquarter Mazda.

“I pleaded with Nicole to come work for us after appreciating her outstanding customer experience in the food service business,” said Michael Gippert, fixed operations director with Headquarter Automotive. “Despite her concerns about not knowing the industry, she took a chance with us and has never looked back.”

“It was Nicole’s resilience that really set her up to succeed,” added Gippert, who now manages Cockcroft. “In her second year, it became quite clear that she would be the natural choice to promote to service and parts manager of our brand-new Mazda store. Not only did she manage, she also coached and motivated others while exceeding her job expectations. What’s more, her former colleagues at Headquarter Honda were so upset that she was leaving them!” 

“Nicole and her team at our Mazda store are in the top 10% of CSI in the region, and our retention is extremely high for a brand-new dealership,” said Judy Farcus Serra, CFO of Headquarter Automotive. “She possesses the skills, qualities and competencies that are truly remarkable. She has a tremendous future and our organization plans to continue to develop her and advance her career without boundaries.”