Winners 2023

Vehicle development 2023

STEARS’ NOMINATION INCLUDED this standout sentence, which merits quoting in full: “Julie has delivered the most significant step improvement in customer qualityexperience in JLR history, all in the space of 18-24 months.”Paul Goff, head of supplier parts quality at JLR, went on to praise her “tireless drive for engineering excellence working across the engineering function and with our supplier partners”. Stears joined JLR in 2015, working on the manufacturing launch of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible and Jaguar E-Pace, and has since made a name for herself within quality. She gained her current role in 2021 and leads a team of six taken from both manufacturing and engineering.

Vehicle development 2023 nominees

Stephanie Alexander, Senior safety calibration engineer, Robert Bosch

ALEXANDER LEADS FUNCTIONAL safety projects for Bosch clients in commercial vehicles and passenger cars. She joined the supplier in 2014 as graduate engineer after becoming one of just two women to complete a BSc degree in motorsport technology at the University of Hertfordshire. At Bosch, Alexander has impressed enough to be invited to join the talent development programme to prepare her for the next-level leadership role. In her spare time, Alexander volunteers as a race marshal.

Simona Burca, CAD AVA innovation SME, JLR

BURCA’S CAREER JOURNEY has taken her from Romania to Germany and, since 2015, the UK, where she works for JLR. She is now the subject matter expert (SME) on computer-aided design and what JLR calls ‘associative vehicle architecture’, using digital intelligence to unify and simplify vehicle design. Her work on interior door trim was praised in her nomination: “Simona’s solutions are a work of art: they are extremely simple and yet extraordinary pieces of engineering. Her passion is developing new concepts and creating engineering solutions that no one else has done before.”

Hannah Cartwright, Hardware integration manager, Ford Motor Company

HAVING THE COURAGE to say ‘no’ paid off for Cartwright in her current role of overseeing hardware integration for the Transit range. She was pressed to accept a critical change costing more than $4 million in investment but “did not believe it was the best solution or value for money”, she said in her nomination. So she rejected it and found a new solution within a week that halved the cost. Cartwright joined Ford in 2013 and is expected to reach a senior manager position within the year after five promotions so far.

Kath Chamberlain, Senior manager, new product development, Toyota UK

CHAMBERLAIN IS CURRENTLY senior manager on the Toyota project to create a hydrogen fuel cell Hilux pick-up prototype, with the aim of building limited numbers of the vehicle at Toyota’s UK vehicle assembly plant. She works with companies to speed up design and development, successfully applying for UK government funding, and managing the supply chain. She joined Toyota in 1998 on the manufacturing side after two years at Rolls-Royce, rising to oversee the full supply chain of parts and materials into Toyota’s UK plants.

Anita Chaudhari, Supervisor, EU battery cells, Ford Motor Company

CHAUDHARI TOOK UP this newly created pan-European role in 2021, leading a team of eight to deliver battery cells and hardware across electrified products. She moved into the role after focusing on diesel-associated development, including software, within Ford, starting in 2014 as a junior engineer. Prior to switching to batteries, she oversaw a team developing combustion-engine powertrain controls across global vehicle lines.

Chloe Crutchlow, Innovation – lead engineer, AVL

CRUTCHLOW GAINED A first-class degree in engineering in 2021 from the University of Warwick after completing a degree apprenticeship with JLR. She then took up a full-time job at JLR as an engineer, focusing on engine testing, before moving to engine development specialist AVL in 2022. She impressed again within testing, including working on customer quotations and becoming the sole emissions sales expert within AVL. After just over a year, she was promoted to her current role.

Simone Gemkow, Passive safety manager, McLaren Automotive

GEMKOW HAS WON universal praise within McLaren since joining the sports car company in 2019 from JLR. Her work as a passive safety engineer during the pandemic delivered two crash safety programmes, “enabling us successfully to launch two strategically critical cars – the 765LT and Elva – ensuring sales during the crippling lockdown”, wrote vehicle design engineering director Luciano De Oto. Since her promotion in 2021, she has increased female representation within her team to 50% and has completed McLaren’s manager effectiveness programme, which prepares fast risers for bigger roles.

Miriam Lorenzo, Chief control systems engineer, Drive System Design

LORENZO WAS PROMOTED in February to the prestigious position of chief engineer at this engineering consultancy focusing on electric propulsion. Her primary job is to lead a multimillion-pound electrification project to develop a control system for a new electric axle for a US commercial vehicle supplier for launch in 2024. She joined the company in 2016 from engineering company Ricardo and has been promoted twice since.

Elli Michail, Senior program manager, BEV, Ford Motor Company

MICHAIL’S CURRENT ROLE is to oversee “large-scale” electric vehicle engineering projects in Europe. She won promotion from her previous position,  which involved developing combustion- engine technology to meet stringent  new Euro 7 emissions regulations. She also helped to launch the first European mild hybrids for Ford – including the Puma, Fiesta and Focus – out of three separate manufacturing plants on “fast-track” timing while dealing with Covid restrictions. She describes that as “definitely the biggest challenge of my career”.

Krishna Mistry, Body engineering programme lead, Volta Trucks

MISTRY JOINED THIS UK-based electric lorry start-up in 2022 with a view to broadening her experience after almost eight years of working at McLaren, where she rose to the position of project lead, overseeing air induction and charge air cooling systems. At Volta Trucks, Mistry leads a team of 40 people, managing all body engineering as well as overseeing prototype builds in Steyr, Austria. She was recognised by Volta Trucks senior staff at the end of her first year with “the high wire act” award for speed of execution and team-building skills.

Emma Pascall, Senior programme manager, JLR

PASCALL JOINED JLR in 2012 after gaining a first-class master’s degree in engineering from the University of Warwick. She has progressed incredibly quickly to her current senior role, in which she oversees facelifts for the Discovery Sport, Velar and Evoque. She makes the case to the board for which model lines to develop and creates new vehicle concepts from idea to ready for programme delivery in 10 weeks, compared with the typical six months. Working on a limited budget, she has “increased profits, reduced quality issues and improved customer offers”, according to her nomination.

Hannah Proffitt, Programme excellence manager, McLaren Automotive

PROFFITT GAINED HER promotion in 2021 after impressing with the successful delivery of the McLaren Speedtail three-seat hypercar, for which she was project lead. In her current position, she has been rolling out the introduction of the McLaren Development Process V2, which is designed to improve the quality, efficiency and robustness of vehicle programme delivery. She joined McLaren from Bentley in 2018, where she had worked since 2007, with a year away at Porsche. Proffitt is also an engineer in the RAF Reserves.

Giusy Robertiello, Super Series programme manager, McLaren Automotive

ROBERTIELLO IS HEADING a “large- scale” vehicle programme, from design conception through to full production, in the McLaren Production Centre. She leads all technical decisions and liaises at all levels within the business, from line workers through to the CEO. “Deliver the programme she is leading and the world is her oyster,” wrote vehicle line director Phil Mockford in her nomination. Robertiello came to McLaren in 2017 from Maserati, which she had joined two years earlier, after working in the aerospace industry.

Isabella Soprano, ADAS engineer (camera systems), McLaren Automotive

SOPRANO IS THE subject matter expert on camera systems within McLaren Automotive and is responsible for the development of parking assistance systems. She joined in 2019 from an Italian consultancy, starting out in verification and validation, and has quickly impressed her seniors at McLaren. “Isabella is relentless in the pursuit of solutions to problems,” wrote senior control software engineer Mattia Zanchetta in her nomination. Soprano’s other job within McLaren is the development of the control software that manages the hybrid system of the McLaren Artura.

Helena Tiboni, Lead engineer – interiors, Lotus Cars

TIBONI MANAGES 14 global suppliers as well as an Indian-based computer design team in her role of overseeing the design, engineering and testing for the Lotus Emira’s interior systems. She joined Lotus from General Motors in 2019, furthering her career within vehicle interior engineering. At Lotus, she won praise for successfully resolving major safety and homologation issues with the Emira pre-launch, including curtain airbag deployment.

Holly Yeomans, Principal powertrain lead, McLaren Automotive

YEOMANS’ PROMOTION IN May was the vindication of a painful decision to switch from engineering to a motorsport sales role at McLaren, having been made redundant amid a sharp downturn at the company triggered by the Covid pandemic. “I used what was a negative time in my life and turned it into a positive,” she said in her nomination. In 2021, armed with knowledge of another side of the business, she returned to engineering in a more senior role, focusing on systems such as cooling, lubrication and exhausts for future variants.