Group learning & development manager, IM Group
Chambers, 42, is in charge of training dealer and office staff at the UK importer of Subaru and Isuzu. She joined the company in 2008 from a non-automotive background as PA to the managing director Paul Tunnicliffe and “quickly outgrew that role”, he said. She moved to the position of general administrator in the technical department, introducing processes that “markedly improved the department’s efficiency” according to Tunnicliffe. That made her a “natural candidate” for the training manager job, where she covers product knowledge, launches, management and sales. Thanks to her work, IM dealers were ranked as having the most improved performance for quality of training by the Dealer Attitude Survey in 2015.
Mazda Academy manager, Mazda UK
Neal, 36, joined Mazda’s HR team in 2005, marking her move into automotive after a career spent as a training officer in companies such as law firm Jones Day. Initially joining as HR and development advisor, she moved in 2010 to the post of HR assistant manager and in 2012 to HR manager, before moving out of HR to her role as academy manager. In her time in HR for Mazda, she has introduced core curriculum training for staff and evolved the performance appraisal process. Now on the training side she manages an internal team and two training agencies.
Network learning & development manager, Volkswagen Group
Williams, 36, started her career in the automotive world in 2008 after being hired by Audi to join its network development team. She came from PwC, where she’d joined on a graduate scheme after gaining degrees in accountancy and management, and psychology. She was promoted to business improvement manager at Audi in 2009, and now works at the VW Group’s national learning centre helping to find, develop and keep staff for the group’s dealerships. Supporting her nomination, Martin Barrow-Starkey, head of retailer learning services VW Group, said: “Anna is what the car industry really needs. She is very bright, but what is amazing about her is the way she applies her knowledge. She is passionate, articulate and engaging.”
Senior training and development consultant, management and leadership, Henry Ford Academy, Ford UK
Hilson, 38, completed her degree in retail management at Loughborough University in 2001, working first for the Inchcape dealership group and then the Mercedes-Benz Commercial vehicle operations in marketing. She returned to Loughborough in 2005 to study for a diploma in automotive retail management, achieving a first, and in 2009 joined Ford’s training team based at the Henry Ford Academy in Daventry, Northamptonshire. She currently leads one of the programmes there for Ford’s leaders of the future in conjunction with Loughborough University. She is also an ambassador for the academy. Curriculum manager Jo Selby said of Hilson that she “uses experience and enthusiasm for the industry in everything she undertakes at The Henry Ford Academy”.
Human resources manager, Volkswagen UK
Norford, 24, impressed on her business degree course at the Manchester Metropolitan University by achieving a first-class grade and making the Dean’s list for top performers. That led to an HR graduate position at Travis Perkins in 2014, but she left that in less than a year to move to the job of HR co-ordinator at the VW Group. At the very young age of 24, she moved earlier this year to the role of HR manager. This rapid rise can be attributed to her determination, according to VW Group HR business partner, Maria Mawby. “Georgia’s tenacity, energy and drive show her as being a great HR talent for the future,” she said.