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Women@SIMI recognises female Motor Industry professionals

Women constitute 19% of the motor industry workforce in Ireland. The inaugural Women@SIMI was hosted by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry in the Gibson Hotel Dublin recently. The event was sponsored by Bank of Ireland Finance. Women@SIMI delivered a very impressive panel of speakers, all sharing their inspirational stories with Mary Kennedy Master of Ceremonies who interviewed Katie Taylor, current Irish, European, World and Olympic Champion, Lynne Cantwell, Ireland rugby team’s most capped player and Rosemary Smith, World Leading Rally Driver. Business speakers Nicola Byrne, CEO & Founder Cloud90, 11890 & Stenics Media and Aifric Campbell, Novelist & former MD of the trading floor at Morgan Stanley shared their experiences and challenges.

Rowena Dooley, Director of Dooley Motors, Member of the SIMI Management Board and SIMI Treasurer opened the event remarking it was great to see so many women from the Industry in one room. Rowena commented “considering the trend of women employed in our industry the picture paints reasonably well- in 1998 women constituted 13% of the motor industry workforce and this has risen to 19% by the end of last year close to 8,000 women - not bad but certainly there’s room for improvement.” She also added “To be honest the whole gender balance issue doesn’t really come into the equation in most small to medium sized business’ in our industry. We’re all so focused on getting on with the job and really people progress based on their skill set and more importantly their attitude as opposed to a gender bias one way or another”.

The event developed out of an idea conceived and organized by the women within SIMI, who wanted to create an event where female business professionals from within the Motor Industry could meet together interact, network and share their experiences. Having surveyed SIMI members the feedback on the proposal was overwhelmingly positive, and there was a real sense that an event like this was long overdue. In an Industry that has traditionally been a predominantly male dominated one, it can be difficult to meet other female professionals within similar roles. The main objective of Women@SIMI is to help act as a facilitator to bring female professional from all sectors with the Motor Industry together. The Women@SIMI event has provided a significant step in the formal recognition of the dynamic role played by women right across the country in driving our Industry forward.

The event proved to be a great success with over 150 professional women in attendance from a variety of counties and different sectors such as the Heavy Goods Vehicles, Vehicle Body Repairers, Franchise sales, Distributors etc. Karen Kennedy Marketing Manager of Bank of Ireland Finance Sponsors of Women@SIMI commented ‘Bank of Ireland Finance were delighted to sponsor the event recognising the role that women have and continue to play in the motor industry in Ireland. Bank of Ireland Finance is the leading provider of motor finance in the market through the provision of motor loans to Bank customers and our significant and growing franchise business that provides finance to most of the main motor dealers in the country”. While this is the first event of its kind for SIMI, we would very much welcome the opportunity to build on future events for women within the Motor Industry.

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