SIMI chief urges women to make a real difference in the motoring industry

Expert speakers encourage delegates to think outside the box

Louise Grubb, CEO TriviumVet, MC Mary Kennedy and broadcaster and entrepreneur Norah Casey at the eighth annual Women@SIMI event

Eddie Cunningham

More women should get involved in the motor industry where they can make a difference and help shape the direction of the business.

That was the invitation of, and appeal from, the president of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) as she addressed more than 170 professional women who had gathered for a special event in Dublin recently.

Antonia Hendron, SIMI president, was speaking at the eighth annual Women@SIMI event.

Those at the meeting/celebration came from a variety of different sectors within the industry – including sales and repairs.

And there was an impressive panel of guest speakers.

Among them were Louise Grubb, chief executive officer of TriviumVet, a serial life science entrepreneur, with a track record in founding successful businesses.

Also there was Norah Casey, award-winning TV and broadcast journalist, entrepreneur and human rights campaigner.

They heard the SIMI president say the motor industry is an area where female employees have historically been under-represented. But she said she was “pleased to say this is changing”.

She gave the example of the high level of change by pointing to the make-up of SIMI’s management board being altered dramatically as it now has six female leaders sitting at the boardroom table.

She pointed to herself and said she was honoured to “stand before you today as your president”.

Ms Hendron said events such as Women@SIMI were important to create a space where professional women had the opportunity to network and learn from each other.

It was also beneficial, she said, to hear from other successful people of different backgrounds and industries.

She gave an insight into her own experience.

“By being forced out of my comfort zone, it has led me to meet and make some incredible connections and friends from across the motor industry,” she said.

Guest speaker Louise Grubb highlighted the importance of innovation and thinking outside the box to create new opportunities, thereby encouraging people to “express themselves”.

However she warned that they must be prepared to “pivot” when the road ahead changes.

But, above all else, they must not be afraid to take the opportunity to start in the first place.​

Another guest speaker was well-known personality and businesswoman Norah Casey.

She told delegates: “It’s not what I did in my life that changed me. It’s what life did to me.”

She warned that negativity can be a real danger but she urged people to “look inside yourself”.

She promised: “You will find the resilience to move forward. Don’t be afraid to create something new and different.”

She also spoke of a “women’s agenda” around cars that needs to be articulated.

“There needs to be a strategy about it, because it is incredibly important to us.

There is no public transport that replaces the safety that cars give to women.”

It is difficult to believe the Women@SIMI event marked its eighth anniversary.

It seems like only last year that the inaugural “summit” was held.

The most recent gathering was held in conjunction with sponsor Bank of Ireland.