As the automotive industry continues to tackle decades of perception that being male and ‘mad about cars’ are the keys to career progression, two dealer group winners of awards in Autocar’s Great British Women in the Car Industry programme have sought to highlight the career choices it offers to everyone, AM Online reports.

Zoe Lawson, Marshall Motor Group’s head of corporate sales, said she was proud to line up alongside “so many other women in senior positions” in the annual initiative, where she won the sales category.

Lawson said she hoped the event would encourage other young women to pursue a career in the male-dominated automotive sector.

She said she never found being a woman had created hurdles for her.

“Far from it. I always had a lot of support and it really was the faith of the managers that I worked for that allowed me to progress,” she said.

“I’d encourage any young woman to consider a career in automotive. It’s all too easy to look at the sector and dismiss it because you only see the sales executive and technician roles, but there is so much more available than that.”

Alongside Lawson, Charlotte Stevens, of Jardine Motors Group, who won the aftersales and workshop category, was another representative of the franchised retail sector to receive an award on the night.

Stevens, aftersales manager at the AM100 group’s McLaren Ascot dealership, told AM that while she fears a lack of acceptance of women in the automotive sector could still hamper the careers of those who find themselves with less supportive employers, she is confident of progressing. Having started her career in the airline industry, she has now worked in motor retail for 10 years.

“Honestly, I feel the sky’s the limit in my current role and the only thing keeping me from progressing to a brand director level is a lot of hard work. That’s a great position to be in”, she said.

She currently mentors a young woman within the business and said she may give her a little more support than the young men, but that’s because she knows it can be tough.

“I think it’s important that we acknowledge that and talk about it to ensure that others don’t feel they aren’t being heard in future,” she said.

Stevens and Lawson are now both advocates for automotive retailing. Lawson said: “If it serves to inspire the next generation of talent, the event will have been a huge success in my eyes.”

Stevens, who is participating in Jardine’s future leaders programme with an aim to become a general manager, has improved customer feedback at McLaren Ascot and developed best practice ideas which have been introduced by the carmaker.

View the full article on AM Online here

In February 2018, NFDA launched Drive My Career to battle misconceptions about the automotive industry and promote the exciting aspects of a career in that automotive retail sector. In particular, the support franchised dealers offer to their employees and alongside long-term career prospects. One of the key goals of Drive My Career is to make the sector more appealing to female candidates.