Currently reading: Ford boss Lisa Brankin wins top award at Autocar Great Women Awards 2024
The initiative celebrates the achievements of the most influential women across the motoring sector

Ford UK and Ireland boss Lisa Brankin has been named the most influential woman in the British automotive industry at the Autocar Great Women Awards 2024.

Brankin, who joined Ford more than two decades ago as a graduate trainee, was recognised for steering one of Britain's oldest and most successful manufacturers through one of its most transformative eras, introducing compelling new retail initiatives and championing exciting and influential new technologies, all while emphasising the attributes that have shaped Ford's reputation in the UK over the past century.

“This honour is an absolute surprise and a delight, ” said Brankin. “We don’t get here by ourselves – I’ve had support throughout my career, and I work with a fantastic team. So I accept this award as a partial recognition of me, but mostly as a recognition of them. 

“My heartfelt gratitude goes to my team and everyone who has collaborated with me along the way. I'm also immensely grateful to Autocar for their commitment to uplifting the women in our industry and congratulate all the other nominees and winners.”

Held in association with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and with support from executive search specialists Ennis & Co, Autocar’s Great Women initiative celebrates the achievements of the most influential women across the motoring sector, employed by firms from JLR and Volkswagen to Vertu Motors.

The Ford boss was joined by an array of other outstanding individuals named among the Top 100, a list based on their seniority and level of influence and chosen by Autocar and its panel of judges.

These outstanding individuals cover categories including Executive, Marketing, Retail, Vehicle Development and Manufacturing. There is also an Apprentice category, separate to the Top 100, to celebrate the industry’s up-and-comers. 

Within that Top 100, 12 class winners were recognised. Winners included Cathy O’Callaghan, president and CEO, Ford Motor Credit Company; Sally Dennis, sales director, Mercedes-Benz; and Diane Miller, plant director, Ellesmere Port, Stellantis.

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All of this year's outstanding winners are listed below.

Autocar editor Mark Tisshaw said: “Lisa Brankin is deeply impressive as Ford’s UK boss, keeping the brand in the fight for top spots while transitioning it into a new era – both with electric passenger cars and with its growing commercial vehicle arm. This shows why she is so highly valued by the global brand and why she herself is so influential within the industry.”

Chair of the judging panel and managing director of Haymarket Automotive, Rachael Prasher, said: “It is a joy to see Autocar Great Women continue to grow, both the number of women working in the industry and their seniority. Our ambition when we launched Great Women eight years ago was to shine a spotlight on individuals, roles and businesses so that others could be inspired to choose automotive as a career. This year, more than ever, our Autocar Great Women do just that.”

SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said: “More women are driving success in the UK automotive industry than ever before, making this year’s judging tougher but even more inspiring than the last. Congratulations to all the winners, who represent the very best talent in the industry. At a critical moment in the zero-emission and automated vehicle transition, these Great Women – from engineer to boardroom executive and every discipline in between – instil massive confidence for the future. Diversity brings proven benefits to businesses and industry must strive to recruit top-calibre people from all backgrounds – a journey that will ultimately benefit everyone.”

This year's event, held at Stellantis’s Coventry HQ, included a number of speakers, talks and interviews from: Alison Jones, senior vice president, global circular economy, Stellantis; Geraldine Ingham, global managing director, Range Rover, JLR; Sam Sterry, group sales director, Europcar Mobility Group; Sophia Flörsch, Formula 3 driver, Alpine Academy; and Colonel Hannah Stoy, chief of staff to the assistant chief of the defence staff (people capability). 

A panel debate was also held, featuring: Maria Grazia Davino, group managing director, Stellantis UK; Michelle Roberts, marketing director, BMW Group UK; and Nic Johnson, people director, Centre of Excellence, Bentley.

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This year’s Great Women initiative was sponsored by: APC UK, Aston Martin, Bentley Motors, BMW UK, Bosch, Ennis & Co, Horiba MIRA, Ineos Automotive, Jardine Motors Group, Key Loop, Lookers, McLaren Automotive, Nissan, SMMT, Stellantis, Trust Ford and Volkswagen Group.

You can view the full list of winners by visiting the Autocar Great Women microsite.

The full list of category winners is as follows:  

Category Name Title
Overall Lisa Brankin Chair and managing director, Ford of Britain and Ireland
Executive Lisa Brankin Chair and managing director, Ford of Britain and Ireland
Vehicle Development Ruth Nic Aoidh Director of vehicle programmes, JLR
Government Affairs Eman Martin-Vignerte Director, political affairs and government relations, Bosch UK
Manufacturing Diane Miller Plant director, Ellesmere Port, Stellantis
Marketing Liz Cope Chief marketing officer, Vertu Motors
Operations Hadhami Dhraief Chief information officer and board member, Volkswagen Group UK
PR & Communications Kate Thompson Head of group corporate and public relations, Volkswagen Group UK
Purchasing Judith Richardson Director, procurement excellence hub, JLR
Retail Carole Merry Franchise director, Marshall Motor Group 
Sales Sally Dennis Sales director, Mercedes-Benz UK
Talent Lisa Rowles Global people director, Horiba MIRA


Cathy O’Callaghan

President and CEO, Ford Motor Credit Company


Our apprentice winners, in alphabetical order, are: Charli Mason, Eleanor Garbett-Charles, Emily Hamer, Evie Hurst, Lexy Mason, Mariya Mishnova, Megan Lily Handley, Molly Starkes, Neve Talbot, Niamh Hart, Stephanie Haynes.

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gridlock 1 May 2024

Well if she has steered the current transformation of Ford`s British manufacturing it`s been a failure.

Ford don`t manufacture in the UK anymore.

Ford`s presence in the UK has been in decline for years

cambuster 1 May 2024

Entirely meaningless. Ford of Britain are a shadow of their former selves, neither designing nor manufacturing vehicles or (with the exception of the run-out transit engine in Dagenham) powertrain in the UK. This winner's role is an admin one sitting, since Ford's closure of it's UK Head Office, in a corner of the former Research & Devlopment Centre (now a "campus") in Dunton, overseeing the sales in the UK of Germany designed/ Romanian built Pumas and (massively profitable) Germany designed/ Turkish built Transits. On the "every cloud" basis she's lucky that her financials don't carry the Cologne idling costs, nor future Saarloius closure costs, but wonder if they will include a portion of Ford's annual $5bn Ford-e EV losses when UK deliveries of "Explorer/Capri" (eventually) start.   

Bill Lyons 1 May 2024



....that's a woman??!!

jason_recliner 1 May 2024

It's the Great Women Awards. Were you expecting a man to win?