Dara Freeman leads Cadillac strategy
Alumna's successes include marketing the 2021 Escalade
Dara Freeman ’08 says her life is an example of being at the wrong place at the right time. When she tore her knee during a senior year intramural soccer game, her plans for graduate school got torn up as well.
As she rehabbed her knee and tried to figure out her next career move, she was recruited to work for General Motors (GM) at its regional office in New York. That launched a career path that has placed her in the role of running sales operations and strategy for Cadillac North America.
Freeman joined GM as the economy crashed in 2008 and worked with Chevrolet dealerships to help them stay afloat. She later moved to the Cadillac brand, where she was a strategic sales manager for large markets including New York and Boston. Then she moved to GM’s headquarters in Detroit, where she oversees dealer communications and strategy, vehicle launches and e-commerce for Cadillac.
“I’m thrilled to be at the core of a global brand with a premium heritage that has lasted more than 100 years,” Freeman says. “I’m part of an elaborate team that stops at nothing to develop a customer experience that aligns with the highest tier of luxury.”
Freeman says the launch of the 2021 Escalade is one of her biggest marketing successes. Her team had refined processes enabling Escalades to move as quickly as possible through manufacturing and logistics stages. Even then, customers have had to wait six to 12 months to bring their vehicles home because of incredibly high demand for the Escalade.
“I’ve executed training programs for our nearly 900 Cadillac dealerships to hone their knowledge of the vehicle and ensure customers are well taken care of,” she says. “I’ve also been a conduit to some of the biggest names in Hollywood as they order their Escalades, going from the early stages of putting buildable options on their vehicles all the way to delivery.”
With bankable celebrities such as Justin Timberlake and Kylie Jenner behind the wheel, and changes to the body and drivetrain of Cadillac’s other fleet members, the brand has shed its reputation for being a car of choice for older consumers.
“Our product is no longer a suite of large touring sedans,” Freeman says. “We have agile and nimble compact sedans that hug the road and whip your hair back. I’m also proud that the brand is willing to lead in innovation. We are committed to transforming to an all-electric future in just a few short years.”
Like any marketer, working through the pandemic has been a challenge. In Freeman’s case, the problem wasn’t necessarily in trying to drive sales in a down economy. Instead, the company had to overcome part shortages and reassure safety-conscious car buyers.
“A global microchip shortage has left all auto manufacturers reassessing supply chains and reconfiguring components accordingly,” she says. “In my role, specifically, the challenges of COVID brought the opportunity for me to develop a more pristine cleanliness protocol to our dealerships nationwide through the ‘Cadillac Clean’ program. And my team focused on new solutions to procure digital touchless sales and delivery offerings to customers.
“My Binghamton University education and experience were unforgettable, and helped to land me in the fast-paced automotive industry,” she adds. “I always go back to the unforgiving floor of the West Gym, where I tore my knee into shreds at just the right time to throw my life off its intended course. I’m forever grateful for that small speed bump.”