This year’s event celebrated women in the car industry, in engineering, marketing, operations, and sales. The event began with speeches, Q&As, and a panel debate, hearing from numerous people involved in the car industry, including Laura Schwab, Judy Murray, and Val Risk. After, an awards ceremony was held recognising the top 100 nominees and winners from multiple areas of the car industry.
Advice to women in the car industry
Laura Schwab, vice president of the Americas for Aston Martin, kicked off the event delivering the keynote address. She emphasized how saying yes to every opportunity and job that no one else wanted, and being authentic and genuine, got her where she is today. What she spoke about next was mentioned by almost every speaker that followed and became the core themes of the event: the importance of mentorship and why women in the car industry need to stop worrying about what people think of them.
The car industry is a majority male sector, making women mentorship hard, but important. Women in the car industry all agreed that mentorship had shaped their career and aided them in where they are today. Laura Schwab, as well as, Lauren Holloway, a degree apprentice at Jaguar Land Rover, and Ella Podmore, a materials engineer at McLaren Automotive, spoke about how, when they first began their career in the industry, they had little to no women to look up to, no women that they could look at and try to model what they were doing. This, they said, was a problem because women need to be able to see how far they can rise in an organisation and what that career path looks like.
The car industry has begun to recognise this problem and is starting to think in different ways and take more initiative to make sure women are not only being hired but are also holding management positions. By doing this, there are now more women in the car industry that are leaders and mentors, but still not enough.
Another key point emphasised was that because the industry is male-dominated, it’s easy for women to try and act or maybe even dress a certain way to fit in, or overcome their internal ‘impostor syndrome’.
Laura Schwab said that the turning point in her career was when she “stopped trying to act like them,” them being the men in all the corner offices or occupying the entire board room, and learned to be comfortable with who she was. Judy Murray, Peugeot ambassador and an international tennis coach, encouraged the women in the car industry to begin stepping forward and putting themselves out there, instead of being afraid of what others are going to say or think about you. Once there is no fear in what others think, women become comfortable and authentic, which will get them far.