Friday 20 April 2018

Seize the opportunities, experts urge as motoring women celebrate their big day

All in: a group shot of those at the Women@SIMI conference
All in: a group shot of those at the Women@SIMI conference
Guest speakers (l-r): Mary Kennedy MC, Anna May McHugh, Gavin Hydes, Michelle Spillane and Paula Fitzsimons
Women@SIMI Selfie: Mary Kennedy and Michelle Spillane
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

IT is one of the great days out in the motoring calendar.

It's an opportunity for women from all parts of the industry to meet up, have a good old chat and celebrate another, hopefully good, year.

But there is always a serious side to the Women@SIMI annual event too.

And this year was no exception, with those in attendance encouraged to "seize opportunities" right across the industry.

Guest speakers (l-r): Mary Kennedy MC, Anna May McHugh, Gavin Hydes, Michelle Spillane and Paula Fitzsimons
Guest speakers (l-r): Mary Kennedy MC, Anna May McHugh, Gavin Hydes, Michelle Spillane and Paula Fitzsimons

By all accounts, there are plenty to be taken as the economy expands, even if new car sales have levelled off.

This, believe it or not, was the fourth annual convention.

It is hosted by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) in conjunction with its sponsor, Bank of Ireland Finance.

And more than 140 professional women gathered for the day at the InterContinental, Dublin.

Those up for the gala occasion came from all over the country, representing myriad sectors within the industry.

The focus this year in particular was on how women play such a dynamic role in motoring. It was stressed to them, time and again, how important entrepreneurship is at this juncture in their careers and in the development of the businesses with which they are involved.

Women@SIMI Selfie: Mary Kennedy and Michelle Spillane
Women@SIMI Selfie: Mary Kennedy and Michelle Spillane

They were encouraged to take opportunities both within their own career path and for their company.

As is usual - the event would be unthinkable without her - the master of ceremonies (and she is a master of them) was RTÉ's Mary Kennedy.

Among those she interviewed at the event was Michelle Spillane, director of global marketing at RTÉ.

Michelle shared helpful tips on the importance of branding and on the need for constantly "reinventing both yourself and your business".

The legendary Anna May McHugh, managing director of the National Ploughing Association (NPA), is one of those wonder women with whom I've had great conversations going back the years.

She had some excellent insights into how one of Europe's largest outdoor events - the National Ploughing Championships - is organised each year.

Above all, she emphasised the importance of self-belief in one's own ability.

And Paula Fitzsimons, managing director of Fitzsimons Consulting, shared her expertise on entrepreneurship, the importance of networking and learning from others within business, all the while, of course, creating and seizing opportunities.

Appropriately enough, this was new SIMI president Gavin Hydes' first official engagement. He told the audience: "In my view, a critical objective of the industry is that we communicate the exciting and dynamic career opportunities that are available in so many diverse sectors which SIMI represent.

"It is important that we are able to attract the very top talent our businesses will require going forward.

"It is a cutting-edge, fast-paced and ever-changing industry that has lots of appeal to offer for those seeking a rewarding career".

Karen Kennedy, marketing manager at Bank of Ireland Finance, said: "It is important to recognise both the female role models and mentors within the motor industry."

Here's to another year.

Indo Motoring

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