I’m a born-and-bred General Motors girl so it’s really no surprise that I’ve landed in a role with Chevrolet. My dad started in the factory and worked his way up the ladder, and through him I learned at a young age that American-made was very important. In fact, he wouldn’t let my friends or me park in our driveway if we weren’t driving a GM vehicle! And that’s just one example of how GM factored into all parts of our everyday lives.
I’ve applied my father’s respect and enthusiasm for General Motors and the auto industry at large to my job as a product specialist for Chevrolet. Before stepping into this role eight years ago at the age of 19, I was a ballerina at Oakland University and had to ask myself “Do I want to continue dancing or go a different direction with my life?”
The product specialist opportunity offered me a chance to travel, utilize my communication skills and represent a brand I love. In the end, I decided I couldn’t pass up such a unique opportunity. Since then, I’ve represented OnStar and other GM brands but my work has been primarily Chevrolet-focused.
In my first year as a product specialist I traveled more than 100 days out of the year and have been on the go ever since. I represent Chevrolet at all of the major auto shows each year, along with Chevy racing events, baseball games and concerts during our “off season.” There have been a lot of memorable moments along the way but one that sticks out most to me is being involved with the launch of the Silverado 1500, which was recently named the 2014 North American Truck of the Year. Because of that recent recognition, I was able to help answer questions and educate consumers and media on the vehicle at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn about the level of training that we go through as product specialists. Each year we go through a week of training with brand managers, engineers and other key players from across GM to learn about new product features and updates, along with industry and company trends. Additional training continues throughout the year with email updates and on-the-floor overviews. For big product launches (like the Silverado, for example), we also attend major training sessions with the full product team. It’s our job to educate consumers on Chevrolet’s offerings and be the face of the brand so it’s vital that we have the information we need to be powerful representatives. Answering a question with “I don’t know” isn’t an option so we really need to do our best to understand all aspects of the brand, the vehicles and the industry. As backup, we keep mini iPads with us on the auto show floor in case we need to search something on the spot. One question that never fails to get asked is “Do you come with the car?” That’s one that I just laugh off.
So while some may classify what I do as “modeling” or think I’m just another pretty face at an auto show, the job of a product specialist is really so much more than that. It takes knowledge, dedication, and above all else, a positive attitude. I’m a people person to the core and am lucky to be in a position where I’m meeting a variety of people day-in and day-out while working for a brand I love.
Next up for me is the Chicago Auto Show, which is open to the public from February 8-17. If you’re looking for updates, photos and other Team Chevy information during the show, follow me on Instagram and Twitter at @MariaTalksChevy or at the Maria Talks Chevy Facebook page.
Maria Fotiu has represented Chevrolet and GM as a Product Presenter/Specialist for the past eight years. In this role she’s helped debut a number of vehicles from the electrifying Chevy Volt to this year’s North American Truck of the Year – the Chevy Silverado. A “born-and-bred GM girl,” Maria enjoys traveling the nation representing her favorite products. She’s proud to be from Detroit where Chevy drives the Motor City!