The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) hosted its 5thannual Women@SIMI event recently in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.
The Women@SIMI event is an opportunity for women working in the Irish motor industry to connect and network with other women working in the industry.
This year’s event was the largest to date with over 160 women attending, representing a variety of different sectors within the motor industry in Ireland.
Each year a number of speakers are invited to attend. This year’s Women@SIMI speakers were Francesca McDonagh, CEO of Bank of Ireland, Geraldine Herbert, motoring journalist and editor, and Gerry Hussey, psychologist and motivational speaker. Topics such as female representation in male-dominated careers, women, advertising and the global motoring industry, and personal well-being were discussed at this year’s event.
Anne Cassin was the Master of Ceremonies for this year’s Women@SIMI and the event was again sponsored by Bank of Ireland.
In his first official engagement as SIMI President, Gerard O’Farrell opened the event and acknowledged the importance of recruiting top talent and encouraging both female and male executives to become more actively involved in helping to change the perception of careers within the Industry. Despite the challenges facing the Motor Industry in terms of Brexit and WLTP, Mr O’Farrell also highlighted the advances in technology, innovation in autonomous driving, enhanced connectivity, and the increasing complexity of cars. He believes there are emerging opportunities for Ireland to position itself as a centre of excellence for software engineering within the automotive Industry and to become a world leader in this field.
Francesca McDonagh spoke about her first year in her role as CEO of Bank of Ireland CEO, uncertainty around Brexit for those in business and the topic of gender balance. Francesca spoke about the need for more senior female leaders in all sectors and industries, and discussed the Bank of Ireland gender target announced earlier this year. Under this target, Bank of Ireland, made a commitment for all appointments to senior management and leadership to follow a 50:50 gender ratio by 2021.
Geraldine Herbert spoke about women and the global motor industry from her perspective as a Motoring Journalist and Editor. Geraldine founded WheelsForWomen.ie in 2012 due to a lack of engagement with women from the automotive world editorially and on the marketing side. Geraldine explained that “advertising needs to reflect women, images need to show women, but the industry needs to employ more women. Role models and females must be visible in the industry.”
She went on to discuss the talent crisis across the automotive industry, stating that electric cars, vehicle connectivity, self-driving cars, shifting consumer preferences, and increasing regulatory pressures are creating a complex environment, but that there are compelling reasons for women to be a part of that. She believes that women represent a critical yet underrepresented resource capable of helping automotive companies to take a competitive advantage.
“Women have great intuition and can handle big changes extremely well. Right now big changes are what the car industry is facing. What is so important is for young women to see female role models working within the Industry. We need to communicate that the automotive world is not just for men, creating flexible work practices and highlighting women role models would be beneficial but really what is needed is a culture change, a new way of thinking outside of traditional gender roles. That way a greater number of women can be recruited into all aspects of the Industry and this in turn will filter through to the advertising, images and marketing efforts.”
Gerry Hussey, Performance Psychology Consultant and Motivational Speaker, spoke about the importance of becoming more present in our daily life, and not being afraid to ask about the why in what we do. He emphasised the importance of our emotional wellness and being more attentive to what matters, while also looking after our mental and physical health.