Alena Woolacott

Alena Woolacott: Finance Director Fix Auto Mid Devon and Newton Abbot

Alena has created a workplace culture that is inclusive, supportive and provides equal opportunities for women. She has executed a zero gender pay gap policy, offers flexible work schedules, and ensures that women have equal opportunities to advance into leadership roles, which has resulted in her company being female centric for more than 10 years. She showcases successful female leaders within the company through internal communications, and mentors and coaches women in the business. She has also driven change to ensure female customers are better served by educating and training customer service teams to be aware of gender related issues and provide empathetic support, using inclusive language that resonate positively with female customers. She is a trailblazer in the accident repair sector and is a great role model, showing first hand that being a woman with a physical disability doesn’t need to hold you back and it has never stopped her from achieving her goals. Thank you Alena for striving to ensure that automotive is a place where women can thrive.

Alison Ross

Alison Ross MBE: Chief People and Operations Director at Auto Trader

Alison co-leads the technology, operations and people teams and has had a huge impact on the success of Auto Trader. She has overcome many challenges throughout her career to reach the top, and nearly always being the only woman in the room. She has been instrumental in driving the two significant transformations at Auto Trader over the last 20 years: moving from print to digital tech, and the changes to the culture and organisation. Under her strategic direction and dedication incredible results have been achieved, including an increase from 30% of women in leadership positions to over 42% and from 30% of women in the organisation to 43% overall, and a board where women are in the majority. Diversity measures across ethnicity, disability and neurodiversity are all moving in a positive direction. She has created a dedicated team at Auto Trader focusing on Future Talent with a comprehensive outreach strategy in schools, colleges, and universities particularly in deprived areas. She was instrumental in the creation of the company women’s network and mentors and coaches women. As chair of Manchester Digital, she has led the creation of the award-winning apprenticeship scheme to help increase diversity in the industry. She has helped Auto Trader to be an Inclusive Top 50 Company in the UK, the first ever company in the world to achieve the “Autism Friendly” accreditation by the National Autistic Society and a Disability Leader employer. Thank you Alison for all you do to ensure women of all profiles and other underrepresented groups see automotive tech as a career choice and a sector in which they will be welcome and succeed.

Denise Millard

Denise Millard: Chief Executive Officer at Perrys Motor Sales

Denise has worked tirelessly to look at the business from a new perspective with a real passion for thinking about the people and wanting to change the culture from the traditional male dominated business. She is the first woman CEO of Perrys and held the first female role on the board and strives to ensure that a broader perspective is introduced at senior level. She has been a great advocate for creating an inclusive culture within the business using her voice to support the creation of a wellbeing policy and network of mental wellness champions in the business. She is currently involved in creating a menopause strategy with the HR Director and wellbeing steering group to enhance the understanding and experience of women in the group. Under her leadership Perrys are reviewing and modernising their people policies. She is passionate about creating an environment where everyone can thrive and changing the culture of Perrys to be more inclusive, including introducing flexible working, Sunday closing, a menopause policy, using “blind CVs” in recruitment and sales training on how to serve female customers better. She has provided support and advocacy for the female leaders in the business, and inspired them to develop and grow. Thank you Denise for being an inspiring trailblazer who is creating an inclusive culture and encouraging women to progress.

Mandisa Gordon

Mandisa Gordon: Finance Transformation Manager at JLR

Mandisa is the Chair of JLR’s Race Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage Network (REACH). She has worked relentlessly to develop an inclusive movement welcoming colleagues from all backgrounds, and mentors several women who have then progressed. On her first anniversary as Chair, REACH became JLR’s largest employee led network. She created Project Orbit, an initiative to improve the recruitment, development, progression, retention and work-life experiences of Black African & African Caribbean women in JLR, and recently launched a Sponsor and Mentoring programme. She also created a Reverse Mentoring Programme, which helps leaders understand the experiences of employees from diverse ethnic backgrounds, inside and outside work. 250 people have been on the programme so far, including all JLR’s Board of Directors and the CEO who Mandisa personally mentored (again, brave!) She helps to promote the company as an employer of choice for women by ensuring women from diverse backgrounds are promoted on the JLR’s social channels. She is working with JLR’s early careers team to develop a targeted bespoke programme; ‘REACH OUT’ for young people from marginalised groups, to help them in STEM subjects and careers within the automotive industry. She facilitated feedback sessions with various teams to provide input into JLR’s ethnic and gender pay gap report, is a visible female automotive influencer on social media, and was awarded Top 10 Inspirational leader by the Ethnicity Awards. Thank you Mandisa for inspiring senior executives and others to be inclusive, and inspiring women in JLR and beyond, working so hard to ensure diverse women feel welcome and can succeed in automotive.

Hayley Pells

Hayley Pells: Policy & Public Affairs Lead at The IMI

Hayley is an amazing female automotive trailblazer. She started her career in the military, initially resisting following her father, who manufactured single seaters, and her mother who raced side car outfits. But she relented and became a 50:50 partner with her father in Avia Autos, a service and repair shop specialising in chassis tuning services. Highly skilled, she has level 3 VRQs in light vehicle maintenance and repair, is an MOT tester, an MOT manager, and completed a level 3 ILM in leadership and management, gained a Masters in Science and most recently becoming a Fellow of the IMI. She is the author of several informative text books, including one co-authored this year on Electric and Hybrid Vehicles. She is passionate about inspiring other women to join and progress within automotive, and volunteered to be an Inclusion Champion at her employer The IMI, to change attitudes, create opportunities to start up conversations in the workplace, dispel myths, and make it easier for people to seek support. She was also a key member of The IMI’s Diversity Taskforce Gender and Sexual Orientation working group. This group had a cross industry focus on equality that celebrates and supports difference, allowing individuals and communities to thrive by transforming attitudes, ideas and behaviours, and creating spaces in which people are safe and feel they belong. Thank you Hayley for your enthusiasm for positive change, being a female technical role model and business owner, and flying the flag for the inclusion of women in the independent repair sector.

Raj Robinson

Raj Robinson: Commercial Strategy Manager at Bentley Motors

Raj is an advocate and ally to several Bentley employee resource groups. She is part of BeUnited – a culturally diverse colleague network, supporting religious occasions, sharing lived experiences and promoting inclusion. She is also active in BeAccessible, (a health, wellbeing & disability network supporting topics and workstreams such as the Menopause Workstream) by supporting monthly sessions and being vocal on the topic helping to remove taboo and stigma. She is also involved in BeInspired, the gender balance network, and mentoring females throughout the business via the BeMentoring programme, and hosts a monthly BeInspired colleague network lunch session. She raises awareness of the reality of intersectionality and her vision is to have a fully inclusive environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging, accepts our differences, and supports each other to be the best they can be. The Diwali celebrations at Bentley have grown with her involvement in the working group. She supports the Girls into Bentley program, volunteering and sharing ideas and content. She is a role model within Bentley and has supported many female colleagues, showing them that they can progress and that change is possible. She is part of the ‘Policy review working group’ which consists of colleagues from all the networks who review draft policies with a D&I lens, resulting in improvements to policies and the roll out of Knowledge Based Articles on topics such as the Menopause. Thank you Raj for working tirelessly to ensure automotive is a place where diverse women can thrive.

Kellie Smith

Kellie Smith: UK Remarketing Account Manager (Commercial Vehicles) at Enterprise Mobility

Kellie has over 20 years’ experience in the automotive industry. She is currently chair of Women in Remarketing at Enterprise Mobility, having helped to establish it in 2022, and because of the work of the network female representation in the function has grown by 45%, which is a great achievement and a significant positive impact. She has worked closely with many departments driving forward gender initiatives within Remarketing and Sales and has also represented the company on this topic with external business partners, most recently appearing on the panel at the Cox Automotive ‘Women with Drive’ event. She is a member of the Enterprise Women Networking Committee, where she aims to foster diversity across the UK business. Her focus is also on supporting the advancement of women to increase the presence of females in senior positions. Her leadership not only encourages the UK Remarketing team to identify and promote exceptional talent, but also advocates for a gender-balanced approach to see more women in leadership roles across the business. She established a female mentoring programme, and the reaction of the women within the Remarketing team and the degree to which they have benefited has been outstanding. She has helped foster a culture of openness, excellence and drive that has undoubtedly not only moved the team’s performance forward this year, but has more importantly set them up for future success. Thank you Kellie for all you do to ensure women can succeed in automotive remarketing and sales.

Musonda Rachel Hobbis

Musonda Rachel Hobbis: Sales Support Executive at ROI

Musonda is an active member in her company’s employee led Diversity Trustee group, whose mission is to promote awareness, curiosity and respect for the differences between us. She was integral to their awareness campaign around the Black Lives Matter movement, sharing her own experiences of discrimination and helped people to challenge their unconscious biases. As a result of the discussion, the company adapted the dress code policy to remove manager uncertainty by specifically permitting the wearing of head coverings related to cultural and religious practice, helping to demonstrate a proactively inclusive and open culture. She has also taken action to ensure that the LGBTQ+ colleagues feel included, and raises awareness of neurodiversity and is a member of the company Wellbeing Trustee group. She is also a member of local group Alpha Omega WPS Foundation, working for women’s peace and security within the local community, putting initiatives in place to help women and girls feel safe. She has been involved in initiatives to eliminate tolerance of gender-based violence, self-defence classes for women, and drink-spiking campaigns. Thank you Musonda Rachel for working to make society safer for women.

Michelle Caveney

Michelle Caveney: Franchise Director – Mercedes Benz, JLR, BMW, Maserati and Lotus at JCT600

Michelle is described as an inspirational female role model, manager and mentor. She not only develops those working for her, but also others in the business, and she is a mentor to several talented females across JCT600, including a previous IAW Award winner. In recent months her remit has expanded, and under her leadership there are already improvements across the business. She is also leading the way in terms of Diversity and Inclusion in her division where she is scoring ahead of the overall company score with her colleagues reporting they feel the company sees Inclusion and Diversity as important. Her nominator states “Having her as an advocate has given me further confidence in my own abilities, and she inspires me to keep pushing the boundaries of traditional gender constraints within our industry.” She is a true authentic leader and an Inspiring Automotive Woman. Thank you Michelle for being an outstanding trailblazer in a role which has historically been associated with men.

Natalina Sutherland

Natalina Sutherland: Head of Marketing Operations at Lookers Group

Natalina has inspired girls in the local community by sharing her personal story as part of Automotive 30% Club school visits. She has also authored an influential report titled ‘Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace to Better Meet the Needs of a Diverse Customer Base”. She makes valuable contributions to the company as a member of the ED&I working group. She advocated to restructure the Marketing department to create more career paths to make it more attractive to marketeers from outside the industry, and to foster a more diverse talent pool. She has worked to bring a deliberate focus on language and creative elements to ensure that marketing campaigns are inclusive for a wider and more diverse market. Thank you Natalina for playing such a critical role in making automotive retailing more inclusive of women and other underrepresented groups.

Shamaila Madeley

Shamaila Madeley: National Account Manager at Motonovo Finance

Shamaila was recently recognised by Aldermore Group at their Woman of the year awards as a Culture Champion. She values differences in people, and she has dedicated her time to influence others across the business to also value differences. She empowers and supports colleagues to truly be themselves. She has also shown a high level of commitment to developing and evolving a more diverse and inclusive workplace. She has assisted her company early careers team and supported events in schools to help promote automotive financial services as a career choice for girls. In her spare time, she acts as a mentor for ‘The Girls Network’, and is partnered with 14–16-year-old girls, and engages in career aspiration discussions, role plays & confidence building sessions. She has championed female talent through her involvement with Motonovo Finance’s external facing female network, GROW. As part of a previous virtual event, she shared her first-hand experience on Imposter Phenomenon, powerfully speaking about how she has overcome adversity as an ethnic minority female within the motor industry. Her passion is driven by being a positive role model for her teenage daughter and those who identify with her inspirational story. She is passionate about being a voice for ethnic minority colleagues as part of her company’s EmbRace network and has helped to promote awareness during Black History month. Thank you Shamaila for all you do to support women and girls of all profiles to fulfil their potential.

Sophie Ogunbiyi

Sophie Ogunbiyi: Manager External Affairs at Toyota Motor Europe

Sophie is a core member of the Gender Diversity Network at Toyota. She hosted a “Shine With Diversity” event to mark International Women’s day last year, and was a panellist at Toyota’s European Diversity Conference 2022 speaking on “why diversity matters” with a particular focus on addressing intersectionality, unconscious bias and support for working parents. She is a Functional Diversity Champion and conducted a survey to identify views on diversity, how included people felt and whether they were listened too. She split the data by gender to find those issues that are important to women, engaging the men in these issues too for understanding. She creates a monthly newsletter on issues such as menopause and female health issues, giving an overview of the issues and tips to support. She highlights underrepresented voices by sharing people’s stories – who they are in and outside of work and what DE&I means to them. She delivered 4 successful workshops to colleagues about microaggressions. She is the Toyota representative on the Automotive Council DE&I working group, contributing to the creation of their Automotive Charter. She also mentors and coaches women, and actively supports women’s professional networks, for example recently becoming active in the Women in Public Affairs Senior Advisory Committee and supporting the launch of the Diversifying Innovation Forum. Thank you Sophie for being such a strong advocate of the inclusion of women in automotive and beyond, and for helping to educate others on how to ensure women can thrive.

Steph Brindley

Steph Brindley: Area Operations Leader at Solus

Steph is a trailblazer in the accident repair sector. She was appointed as an engineering team leader when it was rare for women to have that role, and despite initial resistance from her male reports, through her perseverance and enthusiasm for vehicle repair, she soon won their respect. On joining Solus in 2019, she became the Solus “Balance” Chairperson, responsible for increasing awareness in the need for female representation. At that time Solus had no strategic plan for specifically increasing female representation so she created the plan that was then agreed by the MD and the Senior Leadership team. Going forward this has supported the wider DE&I strategic plan. Alongside her “day job” she is involved with the company’s recruitment activity, induction, and site layouts to ensure our facilities are as diverse as possible. She is an active and vocal participant in many Auto30Club meetings and activities, and is a member of the Women’s Automotive Network. She has also written articles that have been used in automotive publications, about female underrepresentation and the need to improve from a financial perspective and to improve customer experiences. She has organised multiple school outreach activities, including Auto30Club school visits, careers fairs, and interview coaching. She also advises and gives talks to apprentices, is an ally to intersectional women, and mentors women working in technical areas, inspiring them to progress. Thank you Steph for all your hard work in driving significant change in the accident repair sector to ensure women have it on their career radar, and can succeed.

Charlene Gavajena

Charlene Gavajena: formerly a Product Support Manager at Audi UK was the co-Chair of the We Live Cultural Diversity Employee Network Group

Charlene is an inspirational female role model in Volkswagen Group UK. She has built programmes that have increased in reach, and given support and confidence to male and female colleagues across the business. After volunteering to be a reverse mentor, she was paired with the Group MD She became a very vocal and active champion of the reverse mentoring programme and she identified the opportunity to expand it. She now manages the whole programme of 26 pairings this year between Senior Leaders and spans across six Employee Network Groups covering gender, ethnicity, disability, LGBTQ+ and those with parental and/or caring responsibilities. She promotes the programme at internal events, in articles and directly through the ENGs. She has led the bi-monthly check in sessions with mentors and mentees to gain feedback and develop business change ideas, and also held a launch event where she and Group MD did a “fireside” chat about what each of them had got out of the mentoring relationship. She was a role model to other junior members of the organisation and intersectional women to have the confidence to share their personal experiences. Thank you Charlene for being instrumental in developing a wider understanding of intersectional diversity.