Real Model Interview featuring Sarnjit Kaur, HR Director Europe at Cox Automotive Europe and Inspiring Automotive Woman Award Winner for 2021

In this Real Model interview, Sarnjit Kaur, HR Director Europe at Cox Automotive Europe and Inspiring Automotive Woman Award Winner for 2021 explains why she thinks business is about people and the importance of encouraging people to realise their full potential and help people to broaden their skillset.

Sarnjit details why Dr. Gladys West, a mathematician who helped to develop the Global Positioning System (GPS) is her inspiration and she urges other women to surround themselves with good people and lift others as they rise, by remembering those who encouraged you and continuing to support the next generation of talent.

Read more below.

How did you feel to be nominated by your colleagues in the Inspiring Automotive Women Awards 2021 and how did it feel to be one of our winners?

Very humbled and great to be recognised for my contribution, despite me feeling that I haven’t been in the industry long and do feel as if I am “only doing my job” so being recognised for something you love doing is fabulous.

What is your job and what does it involve? 

HR Director Europe at Cox Automotive Europe, and responsible for the implementation of the strategic people priorities across the European Market. Ensuring our people plans are aligned to the strategic priorities of the business so that all our team members c2000 + have a clear line of sight of where and how they help us deliver our business plans. Personally, for me this means putting our people priorities at the heart of everything we do – my well known saying to my team is any business is about people – we can have the best strategic/operational plans but without an engaged, motivated workforce who all understand the part they play, this can be a challenge.

How long have you worked in the sector?

Just over 4 years

What do you like best about your job?

People People People – I love being able to help team members realise their full potential and genuinely enjoy helping others broaden their skillsets to grow and fulfil their potential.

What are your future aspirations?

Recently promoted (March 2021) to HRD Europe and sit on the European Operating Board so career-wise at this moment in time I want to be the best I can be and am enjoying shaping the European strategy with the support of my peer group on the Board. I also enjoy improving our HR and People experiences across the group and core HR processes, so our internal customer service experience is seamless and we embrace digitalisation. Since the pandemic, I have really enjoyed speaking at external events / round tables / CIPD events to give something back to the next generation of HR professionals. The pandemic as we know will impact the younger generation disproportionately so the fact that we are working in hybrid ways ( and not travelling silly miles), I have utilised the time so support events.

Can you name a woman in automotive that inspires you and why? 

I think all the women who have entered the automotive industry and who perhaps initially * like me when I was first approached by a head hunter to try automotive and my first reaction was a little reserved as I thought I would never fit in this role and I can’t recall seeing people like me in any of my interactions when purchasing a car * you are all inspirational for breaking the barriers and the misconceptions and pursuing your careers. If I had to pick one trailblazer it would have to be Dr. Gladys West whose work was instrumental in the development of what became known GPS (Global Positioning System). It wasn’t until 2018 that Dr Gladys West was recognised for her work when her story was shared by one of her sorority sisters. Working in the industry for over 40 years and eventually being recognised for her contribution is something that shapes the history of the women in automotive who never gave up.

What makes you happy?

Spending time with my family, and friends, running and holidaying! Love running and try to get out most days as that is when I do most of my planning – albeit in my head and can’t forget home-cooked Indian food – it’s the best

Which word or phrase do you most overuse?

There is no I in Team!

What is your worst trait?

Worrying unnecessarily about things that may never happen!! Constantly remind myself to control my controllable.

How would you like to be recognised (as an inspiration to others)?

As the person who listened, cared and shared the benefit of their personal experience to help and shape others with their journey – be it on a personal or professional level.

What advice would you give to women who are wanting to progress in the sector?

Don’t let anyone hold you back, you can, and you will, and surround yourself with good people. Remain humble and take every opportunity presented to stretch your experience, knowledge, and insight and achieve your goals when you get there don’t forget those that helped you in your journey, and continue to support the next generation of talent coming through the ranks.

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