Mud on the Wall: What Stuck with us from Autocar’s Great British Women Rising Stars 2019

It has been brilliant to see the tenacity and enthusiasm really paying off for Autocar. The intent is clear in the sense that they are trying to create an established annual event to celebrate women in the automotive industry; with the fourth event this year being the best by far.

From the flamboyant presentation delivered by the fantastic Laura Schwab, to the humbling story of Judy Murray and being a great Mum, to the pledges made by the panel of senior figures within the industry, insights into the world of Mercedes and the confident, enthusiastic apprentices – all elements made up the perfect recipe for a truly delectable event. Huge kudos to the well-deserved winners, too – an amazing array of women I was incredibly proud to be in the close vicinity of. All in all, a fantastic day that won’t be forgotten.

It goes without saying that this needs to continue to be recognised and having reflected on the event, it has given me time to really think about yesterday as a whole – and what has ‘stuck with me’ from it.

Selective focus

We discussed this in detail at our second Making Diversity and Inclusion a Business Reality event back in May and to be honest, I could talk about this until I’m blue in the face. As much as I am, of course, an advocate for championing more women within our industry… I still feel we are focusing too much just on gender alone. Gender is of course really important, yet there just seems to be an imbalance right now – with over 19 different awards ceremonies/initiatives alone for women going on right now, it does feel like we should perhaps highlight other areas of diversity that equally could have greater impact.

We all need somebody to lean on

You can’t tell me you didn’t just read that and did not internally sing the song. Or you might have even started singing it out loud, depending on where you’re reading this. Either way, a great deal of conversation yesterday featured around having someone to guide, support… act as a mentor for the trials and tribulations of career ‘wows’ and ‘woes.’ Obviously, that someone will be a special kind of person. A trusted advisor, a helping hand… or even just a good listener to vent to. Ranting is cathartic and when it’s to someone you trust and respect, I think a little goes a long way.

Are we trying to achieve the unachievable?

Let’s cut to the chase. I think it’s quite clear that we’re sometimes trying to achieve results that just simply aren’t sustainable. Of course, it’s positive to think ‘anything is possible’ but sometimes… it just isn’t. Are some of the changes that are trying to be initiated practical from a commercial point of view? Not always. Are we looking too deeply into things we can’t deliver? I would say so.

Do we need to be more realistic?

Yes. We. Do. As much as we try to look like the ‘good guy’, it’s just not always attainable. Realistic targets are going to save a great deal of headaches and, ultimately, provide more motivation for actual change. So why not start small… and keep it that way? I think there are so many things that can be simplified in this respect and a dose of realism really will go a long way.

Following yesterday’s event, a quote has stuck with me from the fantastic Val Risk’s presentation; it’s Reba McEntire’s “To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.” I want to add to this and say we need to ‘throw’ a determination bone in there, as well. To add to the collection…

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