Four Bentley Colleagues recognised at first Inspiring Automotive Women Awards

An engineering project manager, a manufacturing co-ordinator, a recruitment manager and one of Bentley’s board members have been recognised at the first “Inspiring Women in Automotive” awards.

The awards are organised by the Automotive 30% Club, which aims to achieve a greater gender balance within the automotive industry, with the aim of filling at least 30% of key leadership positions in the member organisations with women by 2030.

“Inspired by the women I worked with when I first joined the motor trade, I launched the awards to celebrate and recognise the unsung heroes of our industry.  Often their valuable contribution is appreciated and acknowledged within their own teams or by customers, but they are rarely given the public recognition that they deserve for their efforts to create a positive working environment. I want to honour these brilliant women who are ”lifting others as they rise” and make them visible,” said Julia Muir, CEO Gaia Innovation, Founder of the UK Automotive 30% Club.

“All of our fabulous award winners have demonstrated that they are making a significant contribution to their business. However they are also committed to inspiring other women to progress or encouraging leaders to create inclusive working environments within which women will thrive, and they are personally involved in activities to show that the automotive sector is a positive career choice for women,” added Julia.

The nominations for women who are an inspiration to their colleagues, celebrate Engineering Project Manager, Victoria Woolley; Talent Acquisition Manager, Claire Keith; Manufacturing Project Co-ordinator, Phoebe Jay, and Dr. Astrid Fontaine, Bentley’s Member of the Board for People, Digitalisation and IT.  All four are based at Bentley Motors’ headquarters in Crewe, where the company employs over 4,000 people.

Victoria Woolley (pictured here) has worked for Bentley Motors Ltd for 19 years and her most recent role as Chassis Engineering Functional Project Manager; whereby she delivered the Chassis systems for the Bentayga TDI, V8 and Phev projects. Previously to that she has held numerous Engineering roles including Chassis Engineering Build Support Engineer, Chassis Test Coordinator and Prototype Build Operations & Budget Coordinator.

Victoria’s ethos has always been to encourage everyone to follow his or her passion and dreams. There is a place for everyone within the Motor Industry, regardless of background or gender. She looks to inspire people; especially those that lack confidence that it is never too late to change once career, to complete further studies and be successful in the Motor Industry.

Victoria’s husband encouraged her to apply for a job at Bentley Motors; and has been the main person in her life to push her through her development, studying and career changes, and she could not have achieved what she has without all of his support.  Since becoming a mother, Victoria became keener to achieve more with her career and ensure that she set an example to her son. That it is never too late to achieve what you want in life, to change your career path, and take on new qualifications, and age should never be a barrier to achieve your goals.

“I’m honoured to have received this award and it’s all the more special to know that I was nominated for it by my peers.  Awards like this are a great way to highlight the contribution that women are making to the motor industry, and the support that we give each other is vital to continue to inspire future generations,” said Victoria Woolley, Engineering Project Manager.

Phoebe Jay (pictured here) has been in her current role for one year. Previously, she completed a three-year advanced apprenticeship in the Paintshop and went on to do a year in the Paintshop Launch Team. Her main responsibilities include integrating bespoke, low volume projects such as the Mulliner No.9 & No.1 Centenary Limited Editions onto the Continental assembly line. Within this role Phoebe has responsibility for all vehicle areas which includes Interior, Exterior, and Powertrain & Chassis. The team also implements the Product Emergence Process for larger programmes such as next generation vehicles and model variants. Phoebe has been at Bentley for five years in total, joining after completing sixth form at the age of eighteen.

Phoebe studied Business and Engineering from age fourteen at The JCB Academy UTC, the first school of its kind in the country.  In its pioneering year, she was part of just 10% of female students. They decided very early on that this balance had definite room for improvement and worked to engage local primary schools and invite girls aged 10-11 to an annual ‘Girls into Engineering’ activity sessions, led by the students. These sessions were made up of fun and engaging challenges that encourage teamwork, technical thinking, and innovation.  The JCB Academy has now been open for nine years and Phoebe has supported this event for two years as a student, was the event lead for two years whilst in sixth form, and has returned each year since leaving as a ‘Woman in Industry’ and as Bentley Motors’ ambassador. This year sees the 2019 student admissions with 25% female attendance, and Phoebe recently met learners that had attended her sessions back in primary school, which prompted them to apply.

Early on, Phoebe’s mum was an integral part of facilitating her belief that gender was not a limiting factor; a general stubbornness she was born with. Her siblings and Phoebe all played rugby, she also all went to ballet – her brother was one of the best. Phoebe was the first female Cub Scout allowed at their local Scouts centre, and now there are more girls than boys there (She tried Brownies but climbing trees and building fires was much more appealing). Phoebe’s mum ingrained equality and equal opportunity to all, and empowered all kids to question stereotypes. She encouraged Phoebe to explore Engineering and Manufacturing initially, and has been her biggest advocate ever since.

Dr. Astrid Fontaine (pictured here) is responsible for all strategic and operational aspects of global Human Resources (HR) for Bentley Motors. She also leads the Digital Transformation and Digitalisation of enterprise, product (car and services) and customer related areas of the business. In addition, she is responsible for full strategic and operational management of all Information Technology (IT) for Bentley Motors globally. As Member of Board and director of the company, Astrid has personal responsibility and liability for Bentley Motors.

Astrid has spent more than 25 years working in the automotive sector and was inspired by her dad to pursue an automotive career. She has been with Bentley for 20 months.

On a regular basis, Astrid participates in panel discussions and shares her experiences as a former engineering student. This year she went to Japan and participated in the G(irls)20 summit discussing current G20 topics and showing ways to enable women to join the automotive industry. In addition, Astrid invented Colleague Breakfasts, where she meets colleagues from the whole company, sharing her ideas and beliefs. She focuses on recruitment of a diverse workforce and supports other females as a mentor.

“I am humbled by the feedback from my colleagues that I inspire their daily actions and share my vision of an inclusive work environment at Bentley. Congratulation to my co-workers Victoria, Claire and Phoebe. The variety of their roles here in Crewe demonstrates the wide range of career opportunities for women in the automotive industry. Again, I want to thank every colleague that sees us as an inspiration as we continue on our extraordinary journey to inclusiveness,” said Dr. Astrid Fontaine, Bentley’s Member of the Board for People, Digitalisation & IT.

Claire Keith has always had an interest in cars and loved driving. She specifically applied to Bentley as she enjoyed operating in the luxury space and Bentley combines heritage, craft and innovation. Claire has been with Bentley 11 months and she is responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring a talent attraction and selection strategy that supports internal mobility and a high performing culture. Previously, Claire worked as a Talent Business Manager responsible for recruitment and training for a luxury multi channelled retailer.

Bentley Motors has one of the lowest median gender pay gaps in the automotive sector. The company’s headquarters in Crewe, England is home to all of its operations including design, R&D, engineering and production of the company’s four model lines, Continental, Flying Spur, Bentayga and Mulsanne. The combination of fine craftsmanship, using skills that have been handed down through generations, alongside engineering expertise and cutting-edge technology is unique to UK luxury car brands such as Bentley. It is also an example of high-value British manufacturing at its best.

Bentley Motors this week achieved carbon neutral certification for its factory headquarters in Crewe, England, taking another important step on its journey to become the world’s most sustainable luxury automotive manufacturer.

The certification from the Carbon Trust, which confirms that the company meets the internationally recognised PAS 2060 standard for carbon neutrality, reflects measures taken by the company to reduce the carbon emitted in its operations, including the use of renewable electricity.  100% of Bentley’s electricity is generated by either on-site solar panels or purchased as certified green electricity. All emissions that cannot be eliminated are compensated with high quality offsets.

Photographs by Bentley Motors.