Jardine Motors Group and Sytner Group employees were recognised among winners of Autocar’s Great Women: Rising Stars 2021 as Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Hannah Denton emerged as the overall winner.
Fleet area manager Denton also came top of Autocar’s Sales category, alongside 10 other category winners from the list of Rising Stars, which recognises up-and-coming talent in the British automotive industry.
Great Women winner Denton started at Volkswagen in 2011 as an area sales development manager for VW’s Trade Parts Specialists in Leicester and progressed to a head office role as key account manager just 18 months later.
She moved to her current role in 2015 where she acts as a bridge between van fleet customers and the VW Commercial Vehicles brand, matching customer requirements with products and services.
Autocar editor Mark Tisshaw said: “In a year of incredibly high-quality entries, it was really tough to pick a single winner.
“For the judges, Hannah stood out for her obvious drive and determination, coupled with superb results in her job as an area fleet manager at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
“Even in 2020, Hannah's area hit its overall sales target. She's quite clearly an inspiration, both to current colleagues and in terms of nurturing other women in her area of the industry and is a very worthy winner of our overall Rising Star 2021.”
The initiative, held in partnership with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), recognises the best female talent in the automotive sector across 12 categories, from design to vehicle development, said Autocar.
Denton said: “To be nominated for the Autocar Great Women Rising Stars is, in itself, an accolade, but to win the category and the overall award is fantastic, and truly humbling given the competition this year.
“At Volkswagen Group and within the automotive industry, I’m surrounded by some incredible female role models, and I hope that in turn I can use this platform to inspire other women to consider a career in automotive sales.”
PSA Group UK’s managing director Alison Jones won the 2020 Autocar Great Women in the British Car Industry award.
Natalie Wheeldon, marketing manager at Jardine Motors, won the award in the marketing category.
Wheeldon’s 20-year career at the Jardine dealer group began in sales admin and has risen steadily within the company, through database admin and customer retention before moving into marketing, where she works to improve the visibility of the group’s 14 Audi dealers.
One of her successes has been to boost the dealers’ social media following from 4500 in 2015 to 85,000 in 2020 by coordinating their content via WhatsApp.
Wheeldon has also introduced an FCA financial advertising due-diligence process to help improve advertising quality. Jardine’s head of divisional marketing, Alison Fowler, praised her effectiveness, saying she has a “wealth of knowledge” about the Audi brand.
Samantha Anscombe, Mercedes-Benz qualified partners advisor at Sytner Mercedes-Benz of Swindon, won the Aftersales and Workshop award.
Anscombe started as an apprentice in 2017 and was also awarded Mercedes-Benz apprentice of the year in 2020.
She helps colleagues and customers with parts identification, searching and sourcing.
Her initiatives include working out where showroom traffic was busiest to better place accessory display cases, resulting in a successful change of layout.
In 2019 she won employee of the quarter for assisting a “challenging” repeat customer find parts for their classic car, who then left her a great review for her hard work.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “SMMT is delighted to continue its association with Autocar and the Rising Stars initiative.
“This gives recognition to some of the brightest and best in our industry and the fact that there was a vast number of entries to evaluate is testament to the increasing diversity we are seeing entering the industry and prospering.
“The automotive industry offers a wide range of opportunities, from design, engineering through to production and procurement and onto sales, marketing, customer services and a range of corporate functions.
“Initiatives such as ‘Rising Stars’ highlights the variety of career paths and recognises those who are making great strides within the industry, progress which we hope will encourage more people from all backgrounds to consider automotive as a future career path.”
This year’s virtual event features speakers including Hildegard Wortmann, member of the board of management of Audi AG responsible for marketing and sales, Kim Costello, chief marketing officer at Pendragon and McLaren’s Mandeep Dhatt and Ella Podmore.
See the full list of winners on the Autocar website.