To mark International Women’s Day, we spoke to a number of inspiring women across the organisation about their careers so far, their inspirations, and why they would recommend a career in the automotive industry to young women.
Katherine Latham is a Corporate Finance Controller, working directly with Ken Gregor, our Chief Financial Officer. She looks after the financial planning and forecasting for the year for the organisation. Before joining Jaguar Land Rover 2 years ago, Katherine worked at Bentley Motors for 15 years. At the time of speaking with Katherine, we spoke about some of the challenges she faces in her role. “Our main challenge at the moment is to land the budget ready for the 1 April – there’s a lot of pressure on sales in the last month of the fiscal year. It’s busy – but then everyone is!”
Katherine is on the steering committee for ‘Women at the Wheel’, a Deloitte initiative for females in the automotive industry. “I was asked to be part of this great initiative last year. It helps to promote women in automotive to give us a voice, but also to support people who want to come up the ladder, and to make sure that women see a career in this industry as an attractive opportunity.”
The automotive industry is a really exciting one because the technology is moving fast, says Katherine.
“We’ve got a desire for a greener planet, especially in the younger generations, and we are always looking at ways we can become more environmentally friendly. I think there’s a real strong sense of community across Jaguar Land Rover, and we are really pushing to support our local communities, especially in the manufacturing plants.”
Katherine thinks that the challenges for women in the modern workplace in 2018 have changed. “My 20 year old daughter doesn’t see the potential barriers that I saw when I was younger, which is great, and she perceives that the doors are open to everybody, and you can achieve anything you want to achieve.”
When asked why Katherine would recommend a career in the automotive industry to young women, she says, “It’s seen as cool, fast-moving, innovative and I think that’s somewhere people want to be – and that’s exciting!”
Helen McLintock is JLR’s Director of Corporate and Public Affairs. “I’ve lived and breathed JLR for 14 years, and I feel that I have grown and evolved as the business has done the same,” Helen says about her time here so far.
“As we celebrate International Women’s Day, this gives us the opportunity to reflect. JLR, as a business, has come a long way in achieving parity and gender equality. There are so many career development opportunities across our business and women should have the confidence to apply for the jobs they want. I encounter many women, throughout our business, who are immensely talented and I urge them to believe in their own capabilities and to strive to achieve their goals”.
When talking about how Helen manages her work-life balance, she says, “I have two young children and yes, it’s a juggling act but, in terms of balance, it’s about giving your all, 100% at work and 100% at home. I believe that JLR enables working parents to reach their full potential - it’s genuinely a very good environment to support our people, and offering agile and flexible working is important to attracting the best possible people we can.”
Jaguar Land Rover is in the development stages of launching a women’s network later this year, and Helen sees this as a positive. “For me the benefits of a women’s network will be to enable mentoring, to encourage more females to come up through the ranks, and it’s a real opportunity to garner more women’s views about our cars and our business”.
Helen recognises that there is more work to do to change the image of a career in the automotive industry, which in some quarters is slightly outdated. “With technology moving so fast, JLR makes for a pacy and exciting environment where the best ideas can be harnessed and turned into an exciting reality. Our future car technologies are changing skills requirements so having access to the brightest people, irrespective of gender, is even more important than ever.
We need to constantly look for mediums to communicate about the fantastic opportunities we have at Jaguar Land Rover, for both men and women. We can all be advocates for working at JLR.”
One of the reasons to come to JLR is that this really is a people business, Helen says. “The revolution in the car industry has already started with electric, autonomous, connected technologies becoming real. It’s the passion of our people that enables JLR to embrace that revolution. Where else would you want to work right now?”
Davi Heer is a Senior Manager in Global Manufacturing Strategic Planning. She works within the Manufacturing Business Office, and her role involves creating JLR’s Future Global Footprint as well as working on the manufacturing strategies for projects ahead of kick off. “With the move to ACES, a step-change is occurring which will have a significant effect on future trends, product line-up, and ultimately influence demand – that’s the main challenge we face at the moment.”
“How long have you got?” Davi says, when asked about her development journey at Jaguar Land Rover, after joining as a Technician Apprentice over 25 years ago. She was sponsored, full time to complete a Mechanical Engineering degree and on returning to the organisation as a Graduate she has undertaken numerous roles including Powertrain Base Engine Development, XF Programme Management, D7a Vehicle Engineering and Global Business Expansion – to name a few!
There are many people who have inspired Davi throughout her career, all of them have common characteristics – the ability to engage people and a passion for the cars we make. “We have many talented people at all levels within the business who have a common goal to create great products, and so it is easy to draw inspiration. Also, the love and support of my family has always been important to me and encourages me to challenge myself.”
“Don’t worry about having a definitive plan, I didn’t” are words of advice Davi offers to young women looking to go into a career in the automotive industry. “An automotive company such as JLR has 100’s of different roles, and joining a graduate scheme for example is a great way to spend time in different areas and departments and get a better understanding of what is a good fit for you.”
Davi also has some general words of advice, “Be curious - it helps you remain engaged, increases your understanding as well as highlighting potential opportunities, and be in a role you love - the ripple effects of this will ultimately reach the customer.”
Marta Garcia-Santamaria is a Senior Manager in body concept and design integration. Marta’s role involves working in the Body Engineering team and delivering the body concepts, working closely with the Design teams. Marta joined Jaguar Land Rover as a Graduate Engineer and her career has spanned over 20 years in a variety of different engineering areas. “I take a brochure with me of every car I’ve worked on whenever I move on to another role – that way I feel like I’ve taken a bit of the car with me. And it’s something to show the grandchildren!”
Marta has been involved in the development of the women in engineering network. The network aims to support and encourage female engineers in their careers. “The network is open to everyone, and aims to make sure that the female engineers within the business believe there is a great career for them here at JLR. The network also supports our CSR initiatives within JLR, including supporting our graduate activities and attending schools to encourage young women to pursue STEM careers.”
Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors is someone that has inspired Marta throughout her career. “She’s so committed to women in engineering, and she’s a woman in engineering who has made it, and I find her so inspiring.”
When talking about why Marta would recommend to young women looking to get into engineering, she said, “Every day is different, and the challenge of problem solving is there every day. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing a car you’ve worked on, and with technology ever evolving, engineering really is a fascinating career.”
Eva Krosňáková is a Production Operator in our Jaguar Land Rover plant in Nitra. Eva has been with international car and manufacturing companies for almost 20 years and has occupied various positions on her way to working as a production operator in the body shop hall at the newly opened Jaguar Land Rover plant in Slovakia. “I am lucky because I have experience in this field.
Nothing surprised me when I joined the company. But studying and learning new things is still important when you want to reinvent yourself and gain new skills,” Eva explains whilst an entry qualification at the training centre.
“Inform yourself and do not be put off by prejudice. For women, there are plenty of suitable jobs in production.”
Growing up in a small town near Nitra, the female operator says that her choice of occupation was inspired by her father and brothers who have also worked in the automotive industry. “My family showed me that I do not need to fear working in technical and male dominated industry. They also taught me to be driven and do not fear challenges. This helped when I was unemployed and looked for a job.”
Eva only recently started her position at Jaguar Land Rover but she intends to use given opportunities and wants to progress in her career. She likes working in mixed teams and thinks that in such team, the spirit is strong and teamwork is paramount. Her advice for other women would be to inform themselves about possibilities in the automotive industry and do not be put off by prejudice.
International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. For more information, visit the website.